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Shooting snow scenes in Finland for Billion Dollar Brain

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'Billion Dollar Brain' was my first major picture and I didn't have an operator that I was really confident that I wanted to do this film with and- so I went to Bert Easy, who was head of the camera department at Pinewood and asked his advice and he said- well I think we- I've got someone that would be just right for you, and he introduced me to David Harcourt and he's a lovely man and we've been friends ever since then. Working with David I found that he was very easy, he was always contributing; it was a collaborative process and he wasn't ambitious, he didn't want to become a lighting cameraman; he was very content to stay where he was, an operator, and- but he'd worked with many of the leading cinematographers of the time, so he had a vast amount of experience; he'd worked with a lot of the top directors, and I relied on him a great deal, particularly in these early periods when I was coming in with really very little knowledge of shooting a major drama, and the rest of the crew were all top-flight and I had a wonderful gaffer too, who was on the Pinewood staff, called Johnny Swan, and the cast- we had an impressive cast; Michael Caine, Karl Malden, François Dorléac, who was the younger sister of Catherine Deneuve, and a character actor called Ed Begley, who has this idea of invading Russia, you know, because he's very anti-communist and he's a very wealthy Texan oil millionaire, and so he builds up an army intent on invading Russia across the frozen Baltic; rather like 'Alexsander Nevsky', the horsemen going across the ice.

Billy Williams, London-born cinematographer Billy Williams gained his first two Oscar nominations for the acclaimed “Women in Love” and “On Golden Pond”. His third nomination, which was successful, was for the epic “Gandhi”. He was President of the British Society of Cinematographers, and was awarded the Camera Image Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000.

Listeners: Neil Binney

Neil Binney began working as a 'clapper boy' in 1946 on spin-off films from steam radio such as "Dick Barton". Between 1948-1950 he served as a Royal Air Force photographer. From 1950 he was a Technicolor assistant technician working on films such as John Ford's "Mogambo" (photographed by Freddie Young), Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (Bob Burke), and Visconti's "Senso" (G.R. Aldo/B. Cracker). As a camera assistant he worked on "Mind Benders", "Billy Liar" and "This Sporting Life". Niel Binney became a camera operator in 1963 and worked with, among others, Jack Cardiff, Fred Tammes and Billy Williams. He was elected associate member of the British Society of Cinematographers in 1981 and his most recent credits include "A Fish Called Wanda" and "Fierce Creatures".

Duration: 2 minutes, 1 second

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008