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We owned the first Arriflex in England


Filming in Africa
Billy Williams Film-maker
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In 1946 there came a really... a real high point in my... in my experience with him because he got a job with the Colonial Film Unit in 1946, which sent film units to either East Africa or West Africa, and we'd make educational or training films for the... the local people and they would be sent back for processing and editing in England and then reduced to 16mm and sent back, and they'd go around in mobile cinema vans, and there... shown to the local people for education purposes. So we set sail from Tilbury in 1946 — November 1946 — and I spent eight months in Kenya and then Uganda, and we landed in... we went by ship through the Suez Canal, which was a marvellous experience, and landed in Mombassa where we picked up three army staff corps cars with four wheel drives, and I was only 17 and I learnt to drive on these vehicles on the roads in Africa, which were almost free of traffic; it was the most marvellous experience just driving through this beautiful countryside with wild animals everywhere, and then of course, we went through a rainy season where you'd drive through seas of mud and... and you'd have to be fighting to control the vehicle, and it was just enormous fun. And after initially living in a hotel in Nairobi we went out into the bush and lived under canvas, and of course, it was like, it was just... just a great boy's adventure for me. We had... the loc... local native people would prepare our food and do our laundry and we had canvas beds and canvas baths, and it was just... just wonderful. Then when we went in Uganda we lived in mud huts and there was no water supply, and we used to have to take water from a local swamp and filter it and then boil it, and that was our drinking water.

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, 34 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008