American designer Pablo Ferro, who created title sequences for films including Dr Strangelove (1964), Bullitt (1968) and A Clockwork Orange (1971), died aged 83 on November 18, reported Art of the Title, an online publication about title sequence design. Ferro died at Sedona, Arizona, of complications arising from pneumonia, his family confirmed.
Born in Cuba, Ferro moved to New York City with his family when he was 12, according to his interviews. Ferro taught himself drawing and animation and began his career as an illustrator for Atlas Comics, where he worked with to-be Marvel legend Stan Lee on a science fiction adventure comic series. He then worked as an animator for Academy Pictures and Elektra Films. In 1961, he co-founded Ferro, Mogubgub, and Schwartz, which did design work for commercials, and founded Pablo Ferro Films in 1964.
Ferro’s first film title sequence was for Dr Strangelove. The sequence had cards that were hand-lettered with grease pencil on glass. In an interview with The Art of The Title, Ferro explained that Stanely Kubrick, the director of the film, had seen Ferro’s work in commercials and wanted him to cut the trailer for his upcoming film.
The titles for Dr. Strangelove were “last minute” Ferro said and the idea for them came about during a conversation with Kubrick. “He asked me what I thought about human beings,” Ferro said. “I said one thing about human beings is that everything that is mechanical, that is invented, is very sexual. We looked at each other and realised – the B- 52, refueling in mid-air, of course, how much more sexual can you get?! He loved the idea.” Ferro also created the font used in the sequence.
Ferro went on to create title sequences for close to a 100 films, including the split-screen one in The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) – a technique that he would come to be known for – Gus Van Sant’s Good Will Hunting (1997), LA Confidential (1997) and the Men in Black films. Twelve films that Ferro worked on have won Academy Awards.
Ferro also dabbled in filmmaking. He co-directed Hal Ashby’s Rolling Stones concert film Let’s Spend the Night Together and directed the 1992 comedy Me Myself and I. In 2000, he was inducted into the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame.