Just over five months ago a N.Y. Times story by Maureen Carvajal announced that a full-length version of Orson Welles‘ never-completed The Other Side of The Wind, which was shot in fits and starts from the early to mid ’70s, would be assembled and screened in May 2015. Carvajal wrote that the producers, particularly Royal Road Entertainment’s Filip Jan Rymsza and even more particularly Welles’ friend and colleague Peter Bogdanovich, who told Carvajal that he’d assumed the responsibility of cutting together the final version, “aim to have it ready for a screening in time for May 6, the 100th anniversary of Welles’s birth.”
In a 10.29 HE interview I was told by original Wind producer and Welles biogrqpher Joseph McBride that the film might also screen at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, which kicks off next month.
Well, both scenarios are out the window, McBride now says. The Other Side of the Wind might screen somewhere later this year (Telluride? New York Film Festival?) but forget May 6th and forget Cannes.
“Post-production work on The Other Side of the Wind is underway in France,” McBride told me this morning. “But it won’t be ready in time for this year’s Cannes Film Festival” — a statement that obviously includes Welles’ 100th birthday, which is about five weeks away. “I never thought it could be finished that quickly. A considerable amount of editing and sound work still needs to be done. There are eighteen hours of negative. Welles edited 41 minutes of scenes [before he died]. As Welles used to say, ‘We will sell no wine before its time.'”
With McBridge stating that the negative is in France and that the editing “will” be done there, there seems to be some question about whether Bogdanovich is doing the cutting or whether post-production work has even begun.
“The negative is in France,” McBride states, “and post will be done there. I’m not sure who the editor is. The producer, Filip Jan Rymsza, would be the one to ask. I’m not directly involved. I’m just giving them whatever advice and help they need. At some point they will show a cut to me and some others to get opinions.”
“They had announced that plan [i.e., to screen The Other Side of the Wind on 5.6.15], but I always thought it was too ambitious to do the complicated post-production for this year’s Cannes festival,” McBride explains. “In 1999 Gary Graver and I shopped [the film] to investors showing a rough cut. We made a deal with Showtime for $3 million to pay the owners and do the postproduction. Soon after that Peter Bogdanovich and Oja Kodar fired me, believing I was not needed anymore. The deal collapsed shortly after that.
“I believe that if I had continued to be involved as a producer, the film would have been out long ago. I [had originally] scheduled a year and a half for postproduction.”
McBride discusses all this in his 2006 book “Whatever Happened to Orson Welles?: A Portrait of an Independent Career“, about a third of which is about The Other Side of The Wind. I was told to also review Josh Karp’s “Orson Welles’s Last Movie: The Making of The Other Side of The Wind.”
I’m trying to reach Rymsza and Bogdanovich as we speak, but for me and, I’m sure, many other Welles fans this is a huge crashing disappointment.