Over tea during the post-production period of one of those “empty” big films mentioned in Sheila Whitaker’s obituary (11 May), Anne Coates said to me, a young assistant: “What are you going to do with yourself ? If you’re not careful, you’ll be 30 and you won’t have done anything.” I was so annoyed that, a few years later, after the first night of a play I had written, I rang her and told her that I was 26 and had a play on. But then, with her remark, she was only pushing me back to theatre, where she knew I had come from.
Speed was one of the reasons that Anne was so respected. Rushes she had seen first thing in the morning were edited by lunchtime. “What’s the difference between your rough cut and your fine cut?” I once asked her. “Nothing,” she said. “My first cut is my last cut but don’t tell anyone.”
Peter Rankin writes: