Ann V. Coates

Anne V. Coates

Anne V. Coates (born 12 December, 1925) is an Academy Award winning British film editor with a 40-year-plus career in film editing. She is perhaps best known as the editor of director David Lean's epic film, Lawrence of Arabia in 1962. Coates has been nominated five times for the Academy Award for Film Editing for the films Lawrence of Arabia, Becket (1963), The Elephant Man (1980), In the Line of Fire (1993), and Out of Sight (1998). In an industry where women only accounted for 16 percent of all editors working on the top 250 films of 2004, and 80 percent of the films had absolutely no females on their editing teams at all, Anne V. Coates continues to thrive as a top film editor. In February 2007, she was awarded BAFTA's highest honour, The Academy Fellowship.


Anne V. Coates first passion was horses. As a girl, she thought she might end up a race-horse trainer. A graduate of Bartrum Gables College, Anne V. Coates worked briefly as a nurse before entering the British film industry. Before becoming a film editor, Anne Coates served as a nurse at Sir Archibald McIndoe's pioneering plastic surgery hospital in East Grinstead, UK. Coates decided to pursue film directing and started out working as an assistant at a production company specializing in religious films (also doing projectionist and sound recording work). There she fixed film prints of religious short films before sending them out to various British church tours. This splicing work eventually led to the rare job as an assistant film editor at Pinewood Studios (one of the only motion picture studios in England), where she worked on various films. Her first experience was assisting for film editor Reggie Mills. Anne V. Coates later went on to work with world-renowned film director David Lean on his masterpiece, Lawrence of Arabia. Coates has had a long and varied career, seemingly refusing to retire and she continues to edit films such as Out of Sight and Erin Brockovich for iconoclastic film director, Steven Soderbergh.

Coates is at the centre of a film industry family. Besides being the niece of J. Arthur Rank, she was married to the director Douglas Hickox for many years. Her brother, John Coates, was a producer (The Snowman and Yellow Submarine), and her two sons Anthony Hickox and James D.R. Hickox are directors, whilst her daughter Emma E. Hickox is also a film editor.

One of the Top Film Editors

Variety's Eileen Kowalski notes that, "Indeed, many of the editorial greats have been women: Dede Allen, Verna Fields, Thelma Schoonmaker, Anne V. Coates and Dorothy Spencer."


  • "In a way, I've never looked at myself as a woman in the business. I've just looked at myself as an editor. I mean, I'm sure I've been turned down because I'm a woman, but then other times I've been used because they wanted a woman editor." .
  • "...I guess I've been lucky that most of the time I've been in the same direction as the director. I try to work with directors whose work I like and find interesting. When I was younger, I had to find work where I could, and I had some not great experiences with directors."
  • "I like having a little edge with the director -- you know, discussions and arguments. I think that's what editors are partly there for, like a sounding board. When I first worked on Out of Sight, I knew that Steven (Soderbergh) did things in a fairly far-out way. So I said to him, "Stretch me." We tried a lot of things that we didn't put in the picture. Steven was always coming up with great ideas. I like working with him a lot."
  • "I like to take time off between films. I think it's important to live your life. I don't think that if you are just an editor all the time that you are going to be a good editor. You've got to go out and experience things, see things and travel."
  • "You search out, and it's not always obvious at first glance, this vein of gold, that rhythmic pulse. It's what a conductor does when he has to conduct a symphony and tries to find out how he is going to do this. All the notes are written down, but you have to know how you're going to do it. And then once you find it, you can find ways to extend that into areas where there are no actors, even -- for example, how long you are going to hold this long shot of the landscape. You can hold it forever, like David Lean, and make a point about that, or you can hold it just long enough to get the idea across that it's a horizontal landscape..."
  • "You have the courage of your convictions. When you're editing you have to make thousands of decisions every day and if you dither over them all the time, you'll never get anything done."
  • "I seem to get the rhythm from the performances I like to feel I'm very much an actor's editor. I look very much to the performances and cut very much for performances rather than the action. I think that's important, what's in the eyes of the actor."
  • On Previews: "I hate them more than I hate anything else that I can possibly think of."

Selected Filmography

As Film Editor

As Assistant Film Editor

  • The End of the River (1947) (second editor) (uncredited)
  • The History of Mr. Polly (1949) (assistant editor) (uncredited)
  • The Chiltern Hundreds (1949) (assistant editor) (uncredited)

Academy Awards and Nominations

see: Academy Award for Film Editing

Other Awards and Nominations


External links

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