Given the news that there is actually no deal with Showtime for OSOTW, along with the inflated amount of money wanted by all the principal participants left alive who would finish work on the film - and they keep dwindling downward - it doesn't seem like it would make financial sense for Showtime or any other company to pursue a deal.
But here is a report on what editor Frank Mazzola thought when Gary Graver showed him the OSOTW footage:
Editor Frank Mazzola Braves Orson Welles' 'The Other Side of the Wind'
By Amy Waddell , May 22, 2000 EDITOR'S WORLD
Even for an editor as seasoned as Frank Mazzola, cutting Orson Welles' last film -- the never-released "The Other Side of the Wind" -- will be something of an apex.
Mazzola, who distinguished himself in 1970 with montage and re-editing work on the late Donald Cammell's "Performance" with Mick Jagger, was approached last year by Orson Welles' companion, Oja Kodar, and cinematographer Gary Graver at the Orson Welles Conference in Munich, Germany. They asked him to take a look at some partially cut footage from "The Other Side of the Wind," which had lain dormant since Welles' death in 1985. "When all the pieces are put in, it will work beautifully," Mazzola said. "I have a complete vision about the film."
Raised in Hollywood, Mazzola began his film career as an actor, when director Nicholas Ray spotted him during auditions for "Rebel Without A Cause" (1955). Mazzola, who at the time was a member of a street gang called the Athenians, was not only cast as bad boy Crunch, but off the set, took Indiana-born James Dean down the rabbit hole of street-savvy Hollywood teenagers.
During the filming of "Rebel," Mazzola got his first stab at directing when Ray asked him to stage a knife fight for Dean. "That was like the highest high I'd ever had," Mazzola said. He smiled at the memory. "The first person I ever directed was Jimmy, which isn't bad."
Mazzola turned to editing, which at the time required an eight-year apprenticeship at a studio. Growing up in a family of musicians influenced his editing style. "I was able to break away from the structure of a piece of music and see what the jazz musicians did in an improvisational way. Film, to me, is music -- it's visual meter."
Mazzola became one of the highest-paid editors in Hollywood. While in the midst of an unpleasant editing experience involving an intrusive producer, Mazzola received a life-altering phone call. "There's this guy named Donald Cammell. He's got a film with Mick Jagger in it, and he's looking for an editor to cut it."
Mazzola's and Cammell's collaboration on "Performance" was the first of many. Their friendship lasted until Cammell took his own life in 1996. In a letter to actor-producer-director Barbet Schroeder, Cammell wrote, "The final word about Frank is loyalty to the director and the movie...He has soaked up some relentless poundings from producers on that account."
Perhaps it was because of Mazzola's reputation as a director's editor that Francis Ford Coppola asked him to cut "The Godfather." However, Mazzola had already committed to director-cinematographer Nicolas Roeg, who was slated to do a film with MGM Studios.
"I still believe in loyalty and the whole idea of having honor and a code of ethics to live by," he said, "because that's going to put you with the people you should be with.
"What blew my mind about Donald was that he was the highest I'd ever seen him in our last conversation," Mazzola said. "He was like a kid with a big dream; his eyes were full of light, full of the potential of what we were going to do and then, BAM, he was gone."
Mazzola said he has begun taking care of unfinished business, "like this short I did with (cinematographer) Vilmos Zsigmond back in 1970 that was in (my) mom's garage for 25 years, 'The Argument.' Donald and I were waiting to do this film called 'Ishtar,' which had Orson Welles in it and Marlon Brando, Malcolm McDowell and Jane Fonda. Donald said, 'Why don't we just shoot something?' Vilmos brought in Panavision equipment he was testing for a (Robert) Altman film. I basically used all my credit cards and whatever money I had at that time to produce this short film."
Eventually Mazzola ran out of money, and "The Argument" was put aside. He found the footage after Cammell's death and decided to cut the short. "I started going to people I knew: (editor) Dede Allen, (sound editor) Don Rogers. If I had had to pay for it, it would probably cost more than $125,000." Mazzola met producer Hamish McAlpine of England's Tartan Films at his first screening of "The Argument." McAlpine was determined to re-cut Cammell's last feature, "Wild Side," as Cammell and Mazzola had initially edited it, so he hired Mazzola to resurrect the director's cut.
"The Argument" and "Wild Side" took Mazzola and his wife, Catherine, to film festivals worldwide: Chicago; Vienna, Austria; Edinburgh, Scotland; and Munich. While screening a temped version of "Wild Side" at Munich, Mazzola met Graver, Welles' cinematographer, and Kodar, Welles' companion, co-writer and an actress in "The Other Side of the Wind." They showed him the footage and asked if he would be interested in editing the film. Welles had only cut 42 minutes of the 400,000 feet of film he and Graver had shot in 1972.
In "The Other Side of the Wind," John Huston plays a director overcoming conflicts in his attempt to finish a film. Similarly, Mazzola's journey toward completing "The Other Side of the Wind" has not been without contention. "Why should Orson Welles' last film disappear from the face of the earth because it won't be financed?" Mazzola asked. "I think there is this feeling that the money controls it all, but actually the artist controls it all. If the artist doesn't put it down (on paper), what are they going to sell? Fellini said he spent around 80% of his time looking for money. Orson Welles said the same thing.
"I believe there are people in this town who are tied into their muses, who haven't crossed over and lost their sense of perspective. All the great artists fight being conformist. All artists should have their expression. And they can't do it if they've sold out, can they?"
'The Argument' took me to 'Wild Side,' to 'The Other Side of the Wind.' So you pick up James Dean, and you got Donald Cammell and you've got Anthony (Mazzola's late brother, executive producer of 'The Argument'), and Orson Welles. Interesting combination of people, isn't it?" Mazzola asked. "At this age I look back and say, 'What's wrong with the individual having his own expression?' When a producer leaves the studio because he can't deal with the bureaucracy anymore, the other side of all this bigness is not living for money or power, but for the expression -- which is great, because that is what happened in the Renaissance. A lot of artists have been holding on; a lot of the drugs are disappearing, and everybody's getting focused, ready to stand up and be called and do the work."