Thursday, April 23, 2015

Bert Bates, the Invisible Artist….Day 113 of Bond 365

Bert Bates
Passed away this day in 1976
Film Editing for Diamonds Are Forever and Live and Let Die

Bert Bates, who also went by A. S. Bates, started editing back in 1931 with the film Many Waters (UK) and spanned through 1973. He worked with Alfred Hitchcock and Carol Reed and edited more than sixty films throughout his career as a film editor. His work on the two Bond films was at the end of his illustrious career with many high profile movies.

I have done a bit of digital editing on Final Cut Pro, but I have also done some film editing. It is an exacting, meticulous process. In a New York Times article written by Mark Harris, he referred to film editing as an “invisible art.” It is like lettering comics; if done right, it’s presence blends in resulting in an audiences’ experience that is not jarred by poor visuals (the letters). The same is true for editing, especially since editing impacts the visual telling of the story through a series of cohesive sequences. When editing digitally, a cut of the “film” can be undone, however just think what working on physical film would have involved. It’s kind of like measuring twice (maybe three or four times) before cutting. Thinking in those terms and applying to Bates, whose entire career was working with film was a tremendous accomplishment to his ability to work with myriad of directing styles and visions over forty years!

Here’s a look at the opening sequence of Battle of Britain, one of the films that Bates edited in the 1960s. By the way, you might notice some of the names, including a number of Bond alums!

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