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A demonstration of the Louma crane


I only had half the equipment needed for Gandhi
Billy Williams Film-maker
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Whilst I was shooting On Golden Pond in New Hampshire preparations were... were going on for the shooting of Gandhi. And because I wasn’t available, my gaffer, Alan Martin had to go to India to do a recce and research how much lighting equipment we'd need. And apparently he came back with a list, presented it to Terry Clegg the production controller who looked at it and said: ’We can't afford all this, you can only have half’. So we took half of what was estimated. So when I got back from... from New Hampshire I was able to spend a little bit of time preparing camera equipment and so on at Samuelsons. And we took a generator which was 1000A, very similar to the one I'd used in... in New England. And it was split, 50% DC — because I had two arcs and you need direct current for arcs — and... and the rest was AC which would... which would burn HMI’s or... or tungsten lighting. So the genny was shipped well in advance and I said, ‘Well, could I have a Chapman crane?’ Having used it previously, particularly in Mexico on Eagle's Wing. And it... it's a... just a great... a great tool. And Dickie Attenborough said, ‘No’, he said: ’We... we can't afford to... to ship the Chapman, because it's going to take several weeks on... on a ship and we're going to be paying for it all this time. And in any case there's a new crane come out, a newly designed piece of equipment called the Louma crane, with a remote head which you operate separately from the camera by watching a monitor. And this new piece of equipment has... has just been designed in France and we're going to be the first people to use it on a major movie’.

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, 16 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008