Goodbye, Fred

I just heard the very sad news that the Art Director Fred Hole died over the weekend. Many of you won’t know who Fred was, but you will have seen his work. He worked on classics such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Aliens, numerous Bond films, Raiders of the Lost Ark – the list goes on.

Sloane and I had the honour and privilege of working closely with Fred on Kavanagh Q.C. and I have always seen Fred as a mentor – not only in a ‘film’ sense, but also in a ‘life’ sense. We last saw him, with his wife June, a few years ago when we met for a walk around Black Park with our dogs (Fred and June had a lovely lab called Suzie).

Not only did Fred share his huge wealth of information with Sloane and I, but he also gave us some great memories. A couple of favourites are the time he sidled over to Sloane, on set, and with a serious tone of voice told her he had a note for her. He slipped her a piece of paper and she unfolded it to reveal – a musical note. Fred also had a habit of hiding behind the art department drawing rack and then nonchalantly strolling out when someone entered the room, as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

He shared stories and memories of his early days in the industry – sleeping under a draughting table for a few hours at night before getting up to start another day. Stumbling off a plane in the Caribbean after too much duty free on his way to work on Live and Let Die (he also told me that one of the gravestones in the film was inscribed with ‘Here lies Fred Hole, who died of drink’).

I asked him if he had any regrets at all about working in the industry, and he told me the only one he had was not spending as much time with his family as he would have liked. He particularly mentioned that he regretted being off on so much location work when his children were growing up.

Out of the many life lessons Fred taught me, one I will share with you is his technique for dealing with a particularly busy day (evidently he was taught this by one of his mentors, but I can’t recall who). My technique would have been to hit the ground running as soon as I got to work, but Fred had a different take – one that I still use to this day. He would have me put the kettle on and then the pair of us would tidy the art department before doing any work. Fred explained to me that by taking a little time to tidy we could collect our thoughts and plan the day, as opposed to diving headlong in a blind panic. At first it seemed counter intuitive and a waste of valuable time, but I soon realised how right he was. That fifteen minutes of tidying meant that by the time we started work ‘proper’ we had worked out exactly what needed to be done and in what order.

I could go on for hours sharing memories of Fred. He was a mentor and someone I will always be in awe of. I am proud to have been able to call him a friend and will never forget his generosity, kindness, wisdom and sense of humour. Thank you, Fred, may you rest in peace.

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