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On Golden Pond: the 80th birthday scene


Creating an Ingmar Bergman atmosphere in On Golden Pond
Billy Williams Film-maker
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There was one sequence in the film where she sends him off to pick strawberries and he goes into the woods and Mark wanted a very kind of Ingmar Bergman atmosphere, a very dark threatening atmosphere in these woods. And so we chose a spot where there was a little bit of sunlight coming through but in other areas there was extreme darkness. And he gets lost and he panics and can't find out where he is. And for this sequence I didn't use any lights, I just took some little bits of white card and just reflected enough light onto his face to capture his expression. And we finished up with a really dramatic scene that we shot during the daylight. But, then he comes back to the house and he's very distraught and you know there's a... a scene where they come together and she tells him that he's her knight in shining armour. And we did a very long take with the two of them starting in mid shot and tracking very slowly in until we're in a tight two with no cover and it played beautifully. We didn't have video assist in those days but it played beautifully. And that was it, no coverage and I... I thought that's great, I think, when the director's got the courage to do that it's absolutely great.

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: 1 minute, 30 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008