It's at the 14-minute mark of Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project that you get a hint of what would become the guy's biggest problem. A former staffer recounts how, when Weinstein was courting the assistant who became his first wife, his persistent workplace wooing was so disruptive that colleagues had to ask him to stop.
If only all of Weinstein's inappropriate behaviour had been so easily halted. The 2011 documentary by Canadian filmmaker Barry Avrich gives no other hints of how far Weinstein's pursuit of women could go.
Looking back at the film today, "I feel cheated," Avrich said in an interview this week. "I felt I really didn't do justice to being a documentary filmmaker. I covered the bully, I covered the infamous temper, but I didn't cover this side. It wasn't hagiography … but maybe I didn't dig deep enough."
Avrich is now giving himself a second chance: He is working toward a spring release of a new documentary about Weinstein and the wider revelations of sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood.
"I feel morally obligated not to have the one Harvey Weinstein doc out there not have the right ending," he said.
This was not his Plan A when the Weinstein scandal broke. His initial idea was to buy back the rights to his documentary from IFC Films – the U.S. company that distributed it everywhere except Canada – then remake it. He would not just tack on a postscript; he wanted to go back to the original footage and hunt for clues that something more than aggressive business practices were at work in the Weinstein modus operandi. IFC, however, would not play ball.
"They said they would take the high road. What does that mean?" asked Avrich, who has often alleged that IFC demanded edits that would make the film more palatable to Weinstein and then buried it on streaming services without giving it a theatrical release. "You needed a St. Bernard in a snowstorm to find it."
(IFC did not respond to an e-mail query from The Globe and Mail this week. Previously, the company has denied Avrich's allegations, saying trims to the film were minor and that its release was handled appropriately.)
Viewing Unauthorized today – you can buy or rent it on iTunes – you have to wonder how many hints would actually be buried in the raw footage.
The film mainly tracks the rise and fall of Weinstein's business fortunes as Harvey and his brother Bob cornered the market on independent film with their studio Miramax before selling half the company to Disney. Interviewees allege the company crowded out other possible distributors and inflated budgets in indie film, eventually ruining the field.
Clearly, Weinstein was mistreating staff. There's that interview with a former publicist who describes the women in the Miramax PR department as "walking ulcers." A journalist recounts how Weinstein was always telling interviewers, "I've mellowed," suggesting his anger management was a perennial problem.
But hints of sexual misconduct are pretty hard to find.
Maybe that's because so few women appear on camera. Of the two dozen interview subjects, only three are women, including Canadian director Patricia Rozema. She enthusiastically recounts how hard Weinstein pressed her to acquire her 1987 film I've Heard the Mermaids Singing: She figured that if he was that persistent buying her work, he would be equally persistent distributing it.
Rozema isn't the only one whose words now seem heavily tinged with irony. Author John Irving observes that "the moviemaking world would be a less interesting place if he wasn't in it." And entertainment journalist Ross Johnson says, "There are so many people who sit like crows on a wire waiting for Harvey to fall. I think they are going to be waiting for a long time."
Well, maybe not so long.