Bill Asher

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(b. Watford, England, 19/02/1934). Editor, sound editor. Bill Asher was born into a theatrical family. Like Charles Chaplin and Stan Laurel, his uncle Mike Asher was a member of the Fred Karno company that went to the United States in 1910 and, in fact, Chaplin was the best man when his father, generally known as Billy Asher, got married. Billy Asher was an experienced assistant director and location manager who worked with the likes of Harold French and Ken Annakin during the 1940s and 1950s. He was also one of the founding members of the Association of Cinematograph Technicians (ACT) in 1933.

As a child, Bill Asher appeared in bit parts in a number of features and documentaries and started his adult career in 1955, working as an assistant editor in most of the British film studios. He first came to South Africa in 1957, where he worked with George Groom and J. Blake Dalrymple at Cineunion after they relocated from what was then Southern Rhodesia to Rewlatch, Johannesburg. In 1958 he returned to England to work for Pearl & Dean, the large film advertising company, but he was soon back in South Africa to join his cousin Ronnie Brantford at Alexander Films, a company located at Balfour Park that concentrated primarily on making advertising films for the local cinema circuit.

In 1963 he joined Killarney Film Studios as an editor on the newsreel African Mirror and its Afrikaans equivalent, Ons Nuus, as well as Actualidades de Mocambique, a Portuguese-language newsreel. During this time he edited a number of documentaries and in 1965 moved to the features department to work as a sound editor with Peter Grossett. When Grossett joined the Independent Film Centre, Asher took his place. During his time at Killarney he worked with a number of directors, including David Millin and Robert D. Webb. He also worked on three pilots for the television series Wildlife in Crisis, produced by ex-Miss South Africa, Norma Foster.

In 1976 he went freelance and the following year joined Christopher Rowley at Image Producers, eventually becoming a company director. When television finally came to South Africa, the company made more than 400 commercials for broadcasting. As earlier with Alexander Films, a number of them won prizes, including six Loerie Awards. Those made for Elna Press and African Eagle Life Assurance were shown at the International Advertising Film Festival in Cannes. In addition, between 1978 and 1984 he also edited a number of documentaries that were directed by Rowley for the SABC. In the late 1980s he worked as editor or sound editor on a number of films for visiting directors and in 1987 he left South Africa to take up a job with Marmalade Video in New Zealand. In 1990 he joined the New Zealand Archive of Film, Television and Sound, now known as Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, and acted as consultant and liaison with potential film donors. In 1996 his family moved to Australia and settled south of Brisbane. (FO)

(Note: Filmography to follow)


Email correspondence with Bill Asher & Lionel Friedberg

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