Bird On A Wire: Going For A Song
Steven Machat placed the 294 reels of original raw footage of the epic Leonard Cohen film 'Bird on a Wire' up for sale
At midnight on 23rd January 2011, legendary rock and roll manager and lawyer Steven Machat placed the 294 reels of original raw footage of the epic Leonard Cohen film 'Bird on a Wire' up for sale to Cohen fans and investors. Steven Machat has negotiated business deals for the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, ELO, Snoop Dogg and Peter Gabriel in his stellar career but this sale represents something deeply personal Machat explains. "I am selling the Leonard Cohen Bird On A Wire movie reels, as I believe the fans should own them."
"The reels were returned to me by Cohen when he and I settled our differences that existed when he and my Dad's secretary left our offices with all the books and records concerning the Machat and Machat past involvement with Leonard Cohen.
To get the film back, I gave up substantial claims of his sale of copyrights that he did not solely own and had no right selling without contact with Machat and Machat. Upon selling the rights, he also kept all the proceeds.
I got the film back. The same reels Cohen told the world was lost when asked. And many have asked over the years. Leonard offered me this film as he knew it was mine as well as he knew he was wrong in not paying Machat and Machat for our percentage owed for the copyright sale. My specific purpose for releasing the film was to give my Dad back his legacy.
Dad was Cohen's lawyer, manager and protector for twenty years, which ended when Dad died. Dad financed this film for he saw that Cohen was a worthy artist and he knew this film would one day be a historic record of the young Cohen.
When Cohen and I settled and he gave me back what was mine, he neglected to give me the edited version of the film my father paid for. He simply gave me the reels of raw footage.
He never thought I could redo the film. But I loved my father and would not let Cohen's ruse stop me. I found the original Director, Tony Palmer who found the original soundtrack for Bird On A Wire in his archives. With this soundtrack and absolute perseverance, the artistic integrity of the film was put back together and commercially released. This remake cost in excess of 100,000 dollars.
I did this solely for Dad and the legacy that Cohen stole."
The reels of film footage are in individual cans and each one has a Certificate of Authentication signed by Tony Palmer and Steven Machat. Each is different: some cans contain just audio or picture footage and some both (intended to be played together). Finally some contain trims of film. Included amongst the footage there are home movies of Leonard Cohen and his family – including footage of the artist as a young boy, playing with his parents.
The cost of each roll containing picture footage and trim is £1000. Some of the rolls are extremely rare and have been described as 'a bootlegger's dream' as they include original sound recordings of Cohen's concerts in Jerusalem, Stockholm, Dublin, Paris and at the Royal Albert Hall. These rolls can be purchased independently from www.leonardcohencafe.co.uk.
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