I dealt with the latest news on the tireless efforts to complete The Other Side of the Wind, Orson Welles' final film, in about the last fifth or eighth of my April 16 cover story that featured 100 "Orsovations" to preview the centennial celebration of the master at that month's Newport Beach Film Festival. Little did I know that the festival and two Hollywood players who had roles in my piece–actor/director/friend of "O" Peter Bogdanovich and the pride of Newport Harbor High School turned big-time producer Frank Marshall–would go on to join forces for a crowd-funding campaign aimed at bringing The Other Side of the Wind to the big screen.
Forty-five years after the first scenes of The Other Side of the Wind were filmed and 30 years after Welles' death, an online Indiegogo campaign has so far raised $250,000 toward a $1 million goal for editing, score and post-production, the festival and filmmakers announced.
"I am excited to partner with Newport Beach Film Festival and to share the incredible journey of finishing Orson's last picture with my hometown of Newport Beach," says Marshall in a joint statement. "This film has truly been a passion project for me and I am proud to honor Orson's legacy in this way."
(I learned another Orsovation from the statement: The Other Side of the Wind actor Peter Jason also attended Newport Harbor High.)
Marshall, who met Bogdanovich at a birthday party for the daughter of director John Ford in 1967, volunteered to work on the young filmmaker's first film, Targets, which became Marshall's apprenticeship in film production. In 1970, Bogdanovich offered Marshall a position on The Last Picture Show, and from there he got the line producer gig on Bogdanovich's friend's film The Other Side of the Wind, that same year.
It stars John Huston as a temperamental film director battling with Hollywood executives to finish a movie. Susan Strasberg, Lilli Palmer, Dennis Hopper and Bogdanovich played supporting roles. Marshall has said Welles' young film crew would sneak into a movie lot or a drive-in, posing as university film students if anyone demanded production permits. They often invoked Welles' name to requisition props such as a human skeleton or a Porsche.
Welles worked on the film the rest of his life, but he had to steal the actual reels of shot footage after a dispute with an international investor. Welles had not finished editing it by the time he died on Oct. 10, 1985.
Marshall, who went on to produce Raiders of the Lost Ark, Back to the Future and The Sixth Sense, and co-found Amblin Entertainment with his producer wife Kathleen Kennedy and Steven Spielberg, had been working with a team that included Bogdanovich, Welles' daughter Beatrice and his longtime companion, actress/screenwriter/director Oja Kodar, to get The Other Side of the Wind finished and released for last spring's celebrations of Welles' birth 100 years ago.
"Everyone has realized next year is the perfect time for the movie to be completed and released," Marshall said excitedly in October 2014. "Everyone wants this to happen and to honor Orson's legacy."
Alas, the task was too daunting, in part because of money, which is where the Indiegogo campaign comes in. Learn more (and give and give often) at https://www.orsonslastfilm.com.
Meanwhile, as part of the new partnership, Marshall and Bogdanovich have committed to participate in a "master class" during the next Newport Beach Film Festival, which is scheduled for April 21-28, 2016. The class, which will include an in-depth case study of the filmmakers' unprecedented effort to finish the Welles joint, will be open to 100 film students selected from various film schools in Southern California.
"With this collaboration, the festival will further its mission by celebrating classic cinema and Orson Welles' legacy and by providing educational opportunities to the next generation of filmmakers," stated Gregg Schwenk, CEO and co-founder of the Newport Beach Film Festival.
Don't quote me on this, but I have it on good authority that my Welles cover story somehow landed in the hands of Marshall, who made the contact with the festival that eventually got the ball rolling for this collaboration.
For more on the Bogdanovich interview you were supposed to read instead of my "Newport Beach Film Festival Honors Orson Welles' Centennial" story, check out: "Diary of a Mad Newport Beach Film Festival Starring the Ghost of Wes Anderson."
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.