Documentary filmmaker, public interest researcher and full-time surveillance target

Since May 2016, I’ve become acutely aware that I am under surveillance, day and night. My privacy has been stolen from me and I’m not happy about it.

Since I am a law-abiding citizen with no criminal record, I can only assume that those responsible for tracking my movements and associations are doing so for a combination of political and/or economic reasons. While I can understand the private sector investing in the surveillance of politically active people in this way, I have deep ethical objections to the use of any public resources in support of such a campaign. I suspect that many other concerned Australian citizens would share this sentiment. I won’t speculate as to who might be coordinating these efforts, but I will say that it is comprehensive. I suspect the techniques used have been honed over many decades, including through the monitoring of progressive social and environmental movements, including the opposition to the Vietnam war, apartheid, nuclear weapons and the animal rights movement.

If you’re shaking your head in disbelief, or flatly dismissing my claim as delusional, I can assure you that I have seen enough and corroborated with others to have total confidence in my own observations and analyses. I know other people who have had similar experiences and made similar observations during their investigative, whistle-blowing or political work. While the surveillance I am presently experiencing itself is passive (ie. bystanders placed in locations everywhere I go, augmented by the monitoring of my communications) the effect is pervasive, intrusive and effectively inescapable. My only refuges are private residences and the psychological impact is pronounced. My life has been studied to such an extent that all my movements are either anticipated or intercepted, even when travelling in regional areas.

Perhaps I have my own curiosity to blame?

Back in 2011, I began full-time work on my first documentary feature film, Cuttlefish Country (soon to be completed). Through this work I have explored the history of industrial development in the Spencer Gulf region of South Australia, and I have come to understand the politics surrounding major industrial development. I have also gained insights into relationships between major corporations and the public sector. I have discovered entrenched cultures of secrecy, enshrined in law, which in my opinion, betray the public interest.

In response, I have lodged over 100 Freedom of Information requests, across a range of topics with South Australia’s Department of Premier and Cabinet in 2016 alone. I have also lodged further requests with several Federal departments and agencies. You can see these on the website RightToKnow.org.au, where my applications and their results are published into the public domain I have been fortunate enough to have been supported by a small but very generous group of donors. They have assisted me with paying the administrative costs associated with obtaining the deliberations and decision-making processes of various government bodies and releasing them into the pubic domain. I refer to this work as public interest research.

In 2015, I became a member of the press gang attending to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission in South Australia, as an independent documentary filmmaker. I also participated in the Commission’s processes as a South Australian citizen, writing submissions during the establishment of its Terms of Reference, during the Commission itself, and more recently to the South Australian parliament, where a joint committee is considering the Commission’s findings.

Since May 2016, when the Royal Commission handed over its report to the Government of South Australia, the monitoring of my activities became too obvious to falsely interpret. I’ve had cars lurking in my street, cars parked on roadsides with drivers in them anticipating or logging my movements, and a rolling stock of faces everywhere I go… from supermarkets, to cafes and public parks.

So here I am… documentary filmmaker, public interest researcher and full-time surveillance target.

I can no longer find peace in any public place… but this has only strengthened my resolve to press on with my inquiries.

And of course, I’ll continue to respond creatively. Here’s a poem I wrote yesterday, inspired by the events of 2016:

TOO FAMILIAR

I see the way you look at me
with your cover story
and your hollow eyes.

Playing it cool
behind shades
that reflect attention
and hide your inhumanity.

You tell me you're not the type
but I'm no fool.
There is no 'type'.

Man, woman
young, old
silent, smug.
Bold, arrogant, precocious.

Shopper, jogger,
cyclist, driver,
gardener, fisher,
shadow lurker.

I've seen it all,

including your soul:

ghoulish, twisted, perfect.

You log the lives of innocents
drawing their light
into your darkness
to feed the vampires.

I mentioned your eyes
now darting sideways,
hand on face, a stretch, a yawn
a twitching leg.
Unfamiliar ground.
You want to run, compelled to stay.

I'm a body to you, a target.
I get that.

It's nothing personal.

You have a job to do.

Dan Monceaux, 2 October 2016.

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Movies: List of independent cinemas in regional South Australia

As a producer and director of independent films, I know full-well that finding an audience for your work is just as important as making a film in the first place. Whilst working on the feature length documentary film Cuttlefish Country, I began to compile a list of independent cinemas around regional South Australia for the purposes of touring the film to relevant local audiences. I was pleasantly surprised to find the full gamut of cinemas peppered around my state, ranging from grand old art-deco cinemas built in the 1930’s (like the Victa Cinemas) to the outback drive-in at Coober Pedy and pop-up cinemas like Cinemallunga (with special event screenings only) and the Moonta Cinema (which operates during school-holidays). This is not yet an exhaustive list of cinemas in regional SA, though we hope to make it so with your help. If you can provide us with additional venue information, please leave a comment below, or send me an email. These cinemas all play mainstream movie releases and can host special events and screenings by arrangement.

Blyth Cinema, Clare Valley
Blyth Cinema, Clare Valley

Independent Cinemas in regional South Australia

Clare Valley Blyth Cinema 112 seats (08) 8844 5175
Coober Pedy Coober Pedy Drive-In walk-up seating also 1800 637 076
Gawler Gawler Cinema ? (08) 8523 1633
Moonta Statewide Cinema 88 seats 0458 106 646
Mount Gambier Oatmill Cinema ? (08) 8724 9150
Murray Bridge Cameo Cinema 252 seats (08) 8531 0222
Port Augusta Cinema Augusta ? (08) 8648 9999
Port Lincoln Youthoria Cinema ? (08) 8683 1199
Robe South Coast Cinemas 94 & 49 seats (08) 8735 8455
Roxby Downs Outback Cinema 60 seats (08) 8671 0500
Victor Harbor Victa Cinemas 286 seats & 297 seats (08) 8552 1325
Whyalla Whyalla Cinema 2 cinemas (08) 8644 7300
Willunga Cinemallunga 120 seats ?
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Sustainability: Water justice is a hot issue for South Australians

Since embarking on the production of my first feature-length documentary film Cuttlefish Country a year ago, my life been dedicated, broadly speaking, to investigating the topic of water justice in South Australia. While we initially approached the topic from a marine biodiversity perspective (through examining the potential impact of large-scale desalination plants on Gulf systems) the scope of our enquiry expanded rapidly to include groundwater use and to a lesser extent, catchment management. For the benefit of readers beyond our borders, South Australia boasts a reputation for being the driest state on the driest continent on this blue planet of ours. Needless to say, in SA, water management has the potential make or break the health of our environment, our primary industries’ productivity and the sustainability of our towns and cities.

I am very pleased to have met many intelligent, articulate and activated experts and concerned citizens through the course of making Cuttlefish Country (the production is ongoing), and am looking forward to attending tonight’s Water Justice Forum in Adelaide. I expect to listen and learn from the wisdom of others and broaden my knowledge on the history of water resource management in SA. I also expect to hear some though-provoking visions for water-wise future in my home state. If you’re in Adelaide and reading this, I sincerely hope to see you there.

Water Action Coalition logo

The event is co-presented by the Water Action Coalition and The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, 50-55 North Terrace, Adelaide. Doors at 5.30pm for a prompt 6pm start. The panel discussion will feature short presentations from each speaker, followed by a question and answer session. The event is officially described as follows:

The natural water resources of the River Murray are critical to the environment, economy and population of South Australia. Any Basin Plan that fails to ensure that South Australia receives a fair share of the water resources of the Murray-Darling Basin, for consumptive use and to sustain its precious environments, presents a significant threat to the rights of this state. In addition, South Australia’s share will only be truly fair if it is sufficient to allow for the full range of natural variability of climate cycles, the projected impacts of climate change and the requirements of a growing population.

This forum seeks to discuss the legal matters of those rights at a community level, with an emphasis on South Australia, its history, the problems with sharing those rights and to discuss what can be done to achieve water justice for all South Australians.

The forum speakers will focus on the following topics:

  1. Brief History of Water Allocation & Creation of Property Rights as Water Shares – Professor Jennifer McKay, UniSA Professor of Business Law
  2. What are the Problems with Sharing Water between & within States? – Professor John Williams, University of Adelaide Dean of Law & Adam Webster, 2012 Fulbright Scholar winner
  3. What can be done to Achieve Water Justice for all South Australians, including indigenous Australians? – Shaun Berg, Berg Lawyers

The event is free to attend. You an register your attendance here. For full event details, visit the Hawke Centre’s website. For those unable to attend we will be posting videos from this event on our Youtube channel in the following fortnight.

Dan Monceaux

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