Even after months of stories chronicling allegations of sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein, there’s still more to be told. A new Channel 4 documentary, which premiered Tuesday in the U.K., has revealed a few more alleged instances of brutal behavior by the once-powerful producer — as well as the deal that theoretically could have led to real change years ago when he was still in charge at Miramax, had its terms been followed.
“Working With Weinstein” is themed around the fact that Weinstein’s career was built in England, making British films while also tormenting his British colleagues. The focus is primarily on producer Zelda Perkins, who for years was unable to tell her stories — but has been given a voice by the documentary. (Weinstein only appears in B-roll and photographs, but the final segment includes a statement denying the documentary’s allegations.)
“Working With Weinstein” contains many stories, told directly to the camera by the people who experienced them, of abuse and bad behavior committed by Weinstein. One consistent detail, beginning with the 1989 film “Scandal” to 2011’s “My Week With Marilyn,” is how he would always be on set the day nude scenes were being shot.
But perhaps the doc’s most interesting fact centers on the nondisclosure agreement Perkins and a colleague signed in 1998. Weinstein, as has been previously reported, attempted to rape the unnamed colleague and told Perkins about it — and both she and Perkins left the company soon afterward.
In the documentary, Perkins said they only pursued a deal because she was told that criminal proceedings weren’t a possibility. “My lawyers made it very clear that the only way that we were going to get Miramax to the table was to ask for financial damages compensation,” she said.
Perkins then went to Miramax with a specific list of requirements that would come with the financial settlement (250,000 pounds, split between the two of them). Among them: Weinstein agreeing to start therapy, the establishment of an HR department to protect employees, and (per a screenshot of Perkins’ original notes) an “indoctrination procedure for present and future employees” regarding how to report inappropriate behavior.
In addition, Perkins says that “a very key point, which they agreed to, was that if Harvey attempted to settle with anybody else in the next couple of years, Miramax had to disclaim our agreement to Disney or fire Harvey from the company.”
According to Perkins, the point wasn’t to receive compensation, but to keep Weinstein from doing what he had done ever again. “I didn’t want to take money, but as this was the option that was on the table. To me, it was very important that that money was in exchange for a set of obligations for Harvey that would control him… He would be restricted and tied up and his behavior stopped.”
Unfortunately, it appears that Miramax never followed through on those guidelines — which could have legitimately improved working conditions. In fact, “Working With Weinstein” points out that in the aftermath of Perkins’ exit, confidentiality agreements became a regular part of Miramax life.
“The main objective of my agreement with Miramax was to set up structures within the company to stop Harvey’s behavior,” Perkins said. “What happened was the opposite. The company rolled out confidentiality agreements for its employees, effectively allowing Harvey to behave with impunity.”
Almost 20 years later, the floodgates have broken and even those silenced by non-disclosure agreements are speaking out. But many people have suffered in the meantime.
“I had thought what had happened to my colleague and the agreement we’d signed was an isolated case,” Perkins said in the documentary. “Now it’s clear this means of silencing people was not just used by Weinstein, but other people of power… If we’d been in a position where we could have been in a position to speak to anyone in the authorities, this whole thing could have been stopped.”