Don's Diary

October 12, 2001

Week One
I sit in a Soho post-production studio playing through the edited version of "Look Out Haskell, It's Real!" The Making of Medium Cool, my film about Haskell Wexler's 1969 feature Medium Cool. I take it as a work-in-progress to the Edinburgh Film Festival, where it is premiered alongside the new print of Medium Cool and an on-stage interview with the 79-year-old Wexler.

Week Two
Did I think Edinburgh would be a holiday? Up at 8am, bed at 2am. Every day I try to catch at least two press screenings, introduce a Herzog film and, most importantly, sit in the Filmhouse bar waiting for interesting people to go by.

Week Three
I definitely warm to the post-screening discussions. After one particularly enthralling film, Herzog's theories on filmmaking seem to really click into place, finally enabling me to explain them succinctly.

My own film premieres at the Lumiere. No one walks out (frighteningly common up here, partly I think because so many people get free tickets) and I get a call from the BBC a couple of days later saying they are considering thinking about getting interested in mooting the possibility of talking about buying it.

Week Four
Fetter Lane, just behind the London School of Economics, the law offices of the firm that is going to assist me in dealings with parties interested in buying my film. I can almost see my old office on the other side of Lincoln's Inn Fields. I remember sitting in untold numbers of firms such as this a couple of years ago when I was deep into that law-conversion course I never finished. Back then I was suited up, clean-shaven and extremely uncomfortable. Today I wear what I want to wear and say what I want to say. I am on the other side of the desk after all.

Week Five
Realising there are gaps in the film's narrative, I re-shoot some scenes with Haskell Wexler in London and tell him what to say. I soon find that giving scripts to interviewees who are not actors is problematic. Spontaneity is the name of the game when it comes to documentaries: nothing is ever as good as the first take.

Variety, the film and television trade newspaper read all over the world, reviews the film. Apparently I am a "British movie scholar" who has "corralled an impressive array of interviewees".

Week Six
The Denver International Film Festival calls wanting to screen my film this month, and a fax arrives from the Singapore Film Festival requesting a video copy, which I dispatch immediately. I realise that there is probably another year of mileage that can be squeezed out of all of this so I make 50 copies of the film and send them out to festivals, cinemas and journalists around the world. Then I go home and wait.

Paul Cronin worked at the Centre for Philosophy of the London School of Economics. He is co-founder of a film production company ( ) and the author of Herzog on Herzog (forthcoming from Faber).

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