Thursday, 13 May 2010


I’m fed up with reading disinformation about my film of Leonard Cohen, Bird on a Wire, even to the extent of getting its title wrong. The film I made did not cost $130,000, as quoted in several biographies, nor “several hundred thousand dollars” according to the most recent book by Tim Footman. Footman can’t even get the date the film was made correct, or its title !!

He also fails to mention that BBC had wanted to show in their Omnibus arts programme the film I had made, which had taken my usual month to edit and complete. When Cohen decided he could do better, he – or rather the editor he appointed - spent the following 9 months re-editing the material and the resulting film was turned down flat by the BBC as being a mess compared with the original. The original film had been paid for by his long-time manager Marty Machat.

And it was through Machat’s son and partner, and an extraordinary series of co-incidences, that we have managed to find all the original material, some of it in very poor condition, but most importantly all the original sound recordings and dubbing tracks of the film. It was been a joy – although an exceedingly expensive one – to slowly but surely restore the original film. My admiration for Leonard’s music and the group of highly skilled musicians who accompanied him on that European tour, has again been rekindled. Above all, my love for the man: a good man, and a great song writer.


  1. I consider myself a fairly big fan of Leonard Cohen. I got into his work (music only) about 17 years ago at the age of 18. I had known of your documentary, or at least, whatever form of your documentary was shown. To know that I will finally have a chance to purchase a copy for my own personal collection on DVD is a gift I never would have imagined. I look forward to its release. Thank you for not keeping this important piece of history in a closet, tucked away from the fans.

  2. Not sure whether you are still checking this blog of yours, but I felt I should applaud you for all of your hard work (and that of those who have helped you, of course).
    I saw the film at the Green Man festival, and really enjoyed it. Before seeing the film, I had listened to Cohen only a few times, but have now really grown to appreciate his music.
    I thought perhaps you would like to know that your film has introduced me to how wonderful his music really is. I should thank you, so thank you.

  3. Hallo and thank you for this. I was at the Rainbow premiere all those years ago (still have my ticket stub) and did not realize that it was a version 2. Since I discovered this today (thanks Guardian) I have purchased the DVD and look forward to watching and comparing with my near-40-year-old recollections! Thanks so much for your perseverance and hard work; I hope you get some material benefit too!

  4. Why no updates since May?

  5. It was great to hear your interview with Andrew Ford's Music Show (ABC Radio National) last Saturday (21 Nov 2010) on the morning before Cohen's amazing concert at Hanging Rock, Victoria.
    I am now looking for a site to buy the DVD. Thanks for taking the pains to put all those fragments of film back together to reconstruct your doco. Bob Evans, Melbourne.

  6. TP, this is a fantastic portrayal and is extremely well put together. I thoroughly enjoyed watching this. The effort and perseverance you have put into this and all your other work really pays off. You are an inspiration. LH.