Screenwriting : Time to come out of my hidey hole. by Linda Summer

Linda Summer

Time to come out of my hidey hole.

Hi,

I have decided to share a brief overview of a long-buried true story on Stage 32 because it’s such a supportive, inspiring platform for creative souls, especially writers.

And given the increasing number of well-meaning writers and journalists being gagged, imprisoned, threatened and killed across the globe these days, instincts tell me it’s a good idea to let the cat out of the bag now rather than later. Being far more comfortable as a behind-the-scenes person, it’s a big step to do this but the truth heals, and I need to finish healing from this shattering experience so I can get back to writing about happier things and bring some joy to this world.

So here goes.

In recent years I found my way back to my destined screenwriting writing path which was rudely interrupted during my television and radio days in the late 1980s by a terrifying chain of events that can only be described as a thriller/horror/comedy all rolled into one.

I have settled for the Black Comedy genre.

Set in the modern-day cult city of Adelaide, South Australia, 1988, the riotous, local media industry forms an entertaining backdrop. Enter a naïve, 26-year-old fledgling writer who decides to research her late Estonian father’s controversial history as a teenage freedom fighter blacklisted by the Russian Government. Her book concept uncannily coincides with the emergence of the Baltic Independence Movement and peaceful revolution that freed them from the illegal shackles of the notorious 1939 Molotov/Ribbentrop pact. The writer becomes an unwitting activist and all hell breaks loose on several levels.

Her rapid descent into a terrifying world of bullets, espionage and near-imprisonment on false charges becomes too crazy to comprehend and easier to bury.

The descent is triggered by the actions of key perpetrator John Lamb - one of Australia’s richest, most secretive men and owner of television station Channel 9. He attempts to have her arrested and imprisoned on false charges when his ‘golden girl’ payroll officer is busted for embezzling Channel 9. Lamb’s criminal collaborators include South Australian Police and law firm Johnson & Johnson. Fortunately, the payroll officer was tougher than most and wouldn’t be broken. But the shock broke the writer - regardless.

Turns out Lamb needed a scapegoat to deflect potential investigations away from his corporate misdemeanours - as all rich criminals do.

The writer was accused of leading the golden girl astray, masterminding the entire embezzlement scheme and running a major mafia-style heroin and theft racket (she did smoke weed back then, as did most of her friends and colleagues - but a big-time thief and heroin dealer?)

She was working in radio when the embezzlement scandal broke, and to this day, is still mystified by the source of the overnight gunshot blasts that shattered her workplace window. The massive silver bullets lodged in the stairwell still haunt her, as does the production manager’s fury toward her - he blamed her for being the cause of the bullets but she was too naïve to ‘get it’. This incident was never reported or investigated. She took immediate leave and resigned during her 'holiday.'

Running parallel to her unfolding, personal hell, was a spate of sickening ‘Family’ cult murders and daily media headlines dragging the once vibrant city of Adelaide into a quagmire of extreme horror. (Think ‘Spotlight’ - but significantly worse.)

The paedophile cult got away with it because South Australian authorities chose to protect the murderers instead of the victims. Even today, they will do whatever they can to keep the ugly 80’s under a rotting carpet which is ripe to explode.

I intend to protect the privacy of everybody I knew and loved back in those days, except the high-level perpetrators. Unfortunately, Australian defamation laws tend to protect perpetrators, so I am taking a risk by doing this.

But things will never change for the better we live in fear of retribution for telling the truth.

Also worth mentioning is that I visited my father’s childhood farm in Estonia for the first time in 1992. My sister visited dad's farm in 2018 and met the owner. He said he remembered my visit because KGB agents were in his house filming me.

I’m still processing that disturbing information and am grateful to the Estonian man for being brave enough to share the truth. I also intend to request a copy of the KGB film footage and call a truce.

In closing, I believe that #MeToo should broaden its scope to decent men and women who have been smashed by high-level criminals.

Thanks for reading. I look forward to pitching my black comedy via Stage 32 in the near future.

Dan Guardino

That sounds like a great story.

Phil Parker

An interesting mix of events, for sure. Is there a connection between your book research and Lamb targeting you for persecution?

Linda Summer

Thanks for your comments, Dan and Phil. There is no connection between my book research and Lamb that I know of. This story has multiple parallel threads that converged into a grenade that pulverised life as I knew it - a case of terrible timing for oblivious me! Another parallel layer involved my emergence from denial about my dad's untimely death in 1980 and personal spiritual 'delvings' into the meaning of death and a possible afterlife. I began to feel an awakening of sorts was happening - it was such an inspiring experience, sadly cut short by the intense stress, terror and trauma that ruined everything. I was further smashed and traumatised by a psychiatrist who later dismissed everything I wrote and said about Channel 9, the bullets etc. She completely missed my PTSD (diagnosed several years later) and prescribed deadly drugs for my grief. Within days I almost committed suicide even though I had never felt suicidal until the drugs kicked in. My then absent mother had an intuition that something catastrophic was about to happen to me and turned up on my aunty's doorstep at the eleventh hour. She took me home, flushed the pills and helped me recover. I returned to the psychiatrist and told her what happened. She dismissed me once again, so I dismissed her. I had no choice but to leave Adelaide after all that and was fortunate to have a great contact at TCN9 Sydney who hired me as a promo producer (despite Kerry Packer's pay freeze). I have a soft spot for both men. A few months later I was living and working in Sydney. I only lasted a few years and eventually buckled under the stress of the massive workloads. It was a most unceremonious departure - another story for another day - but let's just say, the Adelaide cult experience left me feeling like an AWF - Angry White Female. But that's what can happen when a mental health system fails you. Not sure how I managed to work again so soon - probably something to do with my dear mum and dad's resilience genes. I have a couple of short film projects happening at the moment and when they are done in a couple of weeks, I am taking myself into the country somewhere to write a succinct eBook to get it all out of my system once and for all. Oh, and in the mid 90's I returned to Adelaide and began investigating the Family murders and wrongful imprisonment of Henry Keogh - and others. I met a paedophile victim of a well-known children's tv host who was a good friend of Lamb. The victim suspected Lamb was part of the pedophile cult. Also learned that 70's premier Don Dunstan and his men used to select young boys from lineups in a public hall. They'd take them to their luxury homes, ply them with booze, drugs, money etc. I wanted to interview the victims but was informed they were too fearful to speak out. Some victims had already committed suicide while the others were drug addicts, homeless etc. I believe the Dunstan era marked the beginning of the current paedophile cult. On the same day this information was imparted to me, I returned home to find that it had been broken into. Laptop, cameras were stolen. Strange old town, is Adelaide...the senior crime reporter for the Sunday Mail who covered the Family Murders in the late 80's, also experienced serious death threats.

Cherie Grant

Adelaide is a cult city? What is that even?

Linda Summer

Cherie, cult is the word that first came to mind when I began to revisit that sickening world. Perhaps there is a better word to demonstrate evil? Adelaide is such a pretty city but the undercurrent of high-level, twisted paedophiles responsible for some of the most sickening murders on record, make Kevin Spacey look like the 'lesser evil'. The murderers have never been brought to justice and probably never will be. A 'patsy' has been rotting in prison on their behalf since 1984. In the late '90s, an attempt to 'name names' in court led to the murder of two paedophile victims who found the courage to testify. Two activists and an Independent MP who backed the victims were consequently smashed by the court for defamation and threatened with imprisonment. (I chickened out at the eleventh hour because it was too scary and traumatic.) A screenplay has allegedly been written about the notorious Don Dunstan years and beyond but the writer was swiftly gagged and threatened with serious legal action. I tried to track down the writer without success and ended up leaving Adelaide again - permanently.

Gary Smiley

Wow, I had to read it a couple of times. Very shocking.

Linda Summer

Hi Gary, yes it is pretty shocking. Turning the experience into a black comedy is the only way I will be able to get the book finished. I don't care if it never gets read. The most important thing is that will be off my list of things to do. Looking forward to getting back to writing about unicorns, fairy godmothers and wakadoos. Spiritual comedy is my new thing...

Cherie Grant

Do you go to a writer's group Linda? I found a great one in melbourne and they can be really helpful if you find the right people.

Linda Summer

Cherie, I recently connected with the Coast On Screen film group here on the Central Coast and they have some produced screenwriters among them which is so timely. I'm currently attending a series of the short film workshops they have been funded to present. Among the teachers is a working filmmaker and TAFE lecturer, so it's certainly a timely find. I have never had formal training in film production but have been undertaking informal screenwriting studies for the past few years. The highlight so far has been attending a series of live-streamed screenwriting workshops run by Jacob Kreuger Studios in New York which included a one on one Skype session with a mentor to discuss the first ten pages of a script I was asked to submit upon completion of the workshops. Exciting! My spirit came back to life that day in a big, happy way!

Cherie Grant

Perfect. I have done courses both long and short and gone to writers' festivals and film premieres and such. It's important not to just sit in front of your computer. Good luck. you have an amazing story to tell.

Linda Summer

Yes, community is vital for all artistic souls. We need solitude in which to write but connection and collaboration to keep the balance. When I moved to NSW a few years ago I connected with an art cooperative and helped them stage a major public event to raise awareness about our defence force veterans and their families. I veered off course for awhile but it was a good cause and involved lots of writing. Now I have found my film tribe I will make the most of their monthly script reading sessions. Time to get cracking on some short film comedy scripts. They have been floating around in my head for too long now...heh heh.

Erik Jacobsen

"I intend to protect the privacy of everybody I knew and loved back in those days, except the high-level perpetrators."

If you expose the high-level perps, you will be exposing everyone else.

I would tell this story, unless it was a "60 Minutes" type exposé using a different country and changing details in a way that will preserve the gist of the story, but be in accordance with laws.

Linda Summer

Hi Eric, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I get what you are saying but I'm prepared to push the boundaries as far as I can. Having been on the receiving end of disturbed high level behaviour I naturally believe that cities like Adelaide that protect high level 'evilians' need a damn good shake up. I sometimes wish that I was never informed about Premier Don Dunstan' & co's paedophile activities. Just knowing that their victims still live in fear of speaking out after all these years, bothers me. This seems to be a universal problem in high level politics/law and the celebrity sphere. It also bothers me that a journalist has been imprisoned for reporting the truth about high level pedophile crimes in the UK. Australia is a tragic reflection of the UK when it comes to keeping the lid on the activities of disturbed elitists.

Erik Jacobsen

You are welcome, Linda. I understand fully that everyone does what is right in their own eyes. Even if they know it is wrong, they think it's right to do the wrong. I think what matters is if the intention is purely for benefit of self or benefit of all. Best wishes in your fight!

Linda Summer

Erik, all I can do is write my book and trust that no harm will follow. I'm also hoping the Russian authorities keep their 'spy films' in a safe place and agree to provide me with a copy of my visit to dad's farm in Estonia. I visited Moscow and St Petersburg as well as Estonia in 92 and loved every minute of it. I love Russian people. They are so welcoming and hospitable. My mother was worried that I would be shot in Moscow but I knew that nobody would harm me. South Australian evilites did that.

Erik Jacobsen

Not to discourage you, but it would be an amazing feat if you can even be acknowledged by a foreign security and intelligence agency. My Russian fiance says you have a chance with a hefty bribe.

Linda Summer

Ha ha! I could only bribe them with Vodka, champagne, quality chocolates and flowers. Doubt that would get me very far. I intend to point out that it was not only a violation of my privacy to film me at my dad's farm but also an illegal action because Estonia was an Independent state by then. I will also request my dad's KGB files and ask if they still have his Politburo applications from the 60s and 70s requesting permission for his mother to visit Australia. How sad that they consistently rejected his applications and that my grandmother died without ever meeting her daughter-in-law and three grandchildren. However, they did allow my father's sister to visit Adelaide in 1979 and she was under strict instructions to keep a low profile because the KGB would be watching her every move. Dad contacted a photographer friend at the local paper and their happy reunion (after 45 years) story was published the day after my aunty's arrival. My dad was a bit cheeky, I must admit. I am inspired to write a blog about this - or perhaps a friendly open letter to the Russian Government?

Erik Jacobsen

Try the Australian Embassy in Estonia: https://estonia.embassy.gov.au/

Gauging by your energy and motivation, I think if anyone could pull off what you are setting to do, it would be you!

Linda Summer

Thank you Erik! I tend to approach life like a movie sometimes - wouldn't it be wonderful if I was able to finish researching my father's story and emerge from the adventure alive and well!!

Erik Jacobsen

Linda, if Shakespeare were to be alive today, he would say, "All the world's a movie set, and all the men and women merely actors." Keep us posted about the thriller-adventure you call, life!

Linda Summer

For sure!

Roman BRuni

good intention. too much text made me lost track of intention.

although last paragraph is a repetition,

it did NOT made me wander to read again...

really loved that you are goint to mix black humour with reality

but I suggest you get focus on what kind of public reader

you want to impress... what king of public you want to get back

Interested.

Linda Summer

Thank you for your comments, Roman. This post is a raw, wordy draft - more of a 'thinking out loud' exercise that I decided to share in this community of storytellers. I feel the most compelling story here is my father's journey (based on the chilling stories he told me not long before he died in 1980.) I clearly remember him telling me about being called up to the 'firing line' at the KGB headquarters in Tartu but for some reason, was singled out by a Russian officer and told to 'get on his bike and get out of Estonia as fast as he could.' I asked dad why his life was spared and he said he didn't know but described it as a miracle. I am primarily interested in uncovering the Russian Government's version of events in Estonia, why they filmed me at my father's farm and who was behind the bullets at my workplace. I love my dad very much and am indeed 'my father's daughter'. Even if I am unsuccessful in uncovering the truth, I will be satisfied to know that I gave it my best shot.

Sarah Gabrielle Baron

Wow. Linda. This is intense! I think you're on the right track with saying you're going to send yourself on a retreat of sorts to 'get it all out' in book format. You also mention writing shorts - but I think that's a side track. This is not your dad's story. This is your story. You need to write something for Netflix. I'm seeing maybe 6 one-hour episodes. Write the book first. That needs to happen just to get it all out. Here you're writing like you're in a hurry, trying to get it all out, and fear and excitement and future-talk are fracturing your thought processes. Blog, sure, but the book format is where you will spell it out in measured and meaningful formats that allow you the time to inspect every emotional, spiritual, and frightening aspect of these experiences. And I'd say forget the 'black comedy' angle. This story is too important to get watered down. Write the book first. Don't get sidetracked. Do this.

Linda Summer

Hi Sarah, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I agree with you whole-heartedly. I will clear the decks and write the book.

Linda Summer

I have sent the below email to the Russian and Estonian Embassies in Australia, and the Australian Embassy in Moscow. I also discovered a website called 'KGB in The Baltic States - Documents and Research.' The site includes links to helpful organisations located in all three states including the Estonian International Commission for Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity. I sent them the same email last night:

To Whom It May Concern

I recently resumed research for a book about my father's life and controversial escape from Estonia in the 1940s. The International Tracing Service (ITS) has provided me with copies of his displaced person and emigration documents. However, the ITS primarily focuses on the fates of victims of Nazi persecution and does not have access to documentation pertaining to victims of Soviet persecution.

I have therefore decided to contact various relevant embassies and organisations in the hope that guidance may be provided about how to obtain and/or view sensitive historical documents related to my father as outlined below. I am well aware of the possibility that the documents I seek have either been destroyed or are still classified, but if I don't ask, I will never know. My book will be written regardless.

My father's name is Karl Summer, born 24 January 1926, Tartu, Estonia. The ITS documentation states that on 10 May 1946, he registered in DP Camp Altenstadt (district Schongau) and emigrated to Australia on 24 January 1949 via Naples, Italy, on the Hellas Nea. My father died when I was 17 and never had the opportunity to finish telling me stories about his life and how he came to be blacklisted by the Soviet Government.

The information I seek is as follows:

1. My father's rejected Politburo applications in the 1960s and 1970s requesting permission for his mother Linda Summer to travel to Adelaide South Australia to spend time with us. Sadly, my grandmother died in 1977 but surprisingly, my father's sister Helvi Oissar was granted permission to visit us in 1978 or 1979.

2. My father's KGB files pertaining to his alleged crime in Estonia. About a year before my father suddenly died in 1980, he told me he was involved in a forest 'incident' involving two older Estonian soldiers and a Russian soldier that left him traumatised. He was consequently called up to the firing line at the KGB Tartu Headquarters but was singled out by a concerned Russian officer who asked him what he was doing there. The officer told my father to 'get on his bike and get out of Estonia as soon as possible.' I asked my father why his life was spared and he didn't have an answer other than it being a 'miracle.' (This is a unique light in my father's story and central to my intentions for writing about it.)

My father was consequently blacklisted by the Russian Government which is probably why the Politburo never allowed his mother to visit Australia. Further research has uncovered extensive KGB activity in Australia from the 60's to 90's. (According to newspaper reports, Australian politicians are allegedly too 'traumatised' to speak about it. I believe it's time for them to speak about it. And call a truce, perhaps. But that's another story.)

3. In 1992 I travelled to Estonia to visit relatives and my father's childhood farm and lake he often spoke about. He told me he could never return to his homeland because he would have been shot. Sadly, his dearest wish was to return to his farm and 'dip his toes' into the lake he loved so much as a child. Thankfully, I was able to do this for him.

However, my sister visited our father's farm in 2018 for the first time and met the owner. He said he remembered my visit to the farm because the KGB was inside the house filming me. It was brave of the owner to reveal this information, although my blood ran cold when I heard the news.

Spending time at my father's farm was a sacred, healing moment for me because I struggled to come to terms with his death for many years. To be honest, I did wonder whether I was being 'watched' but chose to let go of that thought and not let is spoil my special day.

The fact that my privacy was violated by the KGB is a serious issue. I consider this to be an illegal action due to the fact that Estonia was an independent state when I visited. However, since learning that unnamed Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian political figures collaborated with the KGB until the early 90s, for all I know, the KGB may have been given permission.

That said, I have a basic understanding of KGB training rituals and how spies the world over are under oath to obey the government directives. So I would naturally be interested in viewing the film footage - if it still exists - and find out why the decision was made to spy on me in Estonia. (The KGB could have just asked me questions in person and I would have happily answered them.)

In closing, I am approaching this writing project in a peaceful, apolitical manner. I also resonate with both Estonian and Russian people and don't wish to cause any trouble or upset to political figures on either side of the border. If anything, I would like to revisit Estonia and Russia again one day and enjoy a 'spy-free' holiday.

My father was a wonderful, loving man who was sadly caught in the crossfire of a dark historical era. He was a mere teenager who felt called to defend his homeland. In some circles, it is alleged that the Russian Government is of the view that the Baltic States agreed to the terms of the 1939 Molotov/Ribbentrop Pact. My research has revealed a counter view but I am interested in learning both sides of the story to ensure I capture an accurate account of events.

I look forward to your response. If you are unable to provide any assistance, I will understand and continue my search for the truth via alternative channels.

May peace between the Baltic States and Russia prevail, and diplomatic relations be cultivated. As idealistic as that sounds, one can only live in hope.

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