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Two slipped discs while shooting Gandhi


The Indian extras on the set of Gandhi
Billy Williams Film-maker
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The Indian crowd were just marvellous. We... whenever we had a big crowd scene we’d have perhaps a couple of hundred, and we'd call... actors from Bombay, extras, and they would be called front-liners. And they had all the best costumes. And then behind them in the background were the local people who were coming in on a daily basis and they were just provided with water for... for the day. And they... they would come there and sit for hours and hours. And then further away from where... further away where we went shooting, there would be hundreds, sometimes thousands of local people watching us work from a distance. I mean they couldn't see very much but they just sat there all day. And... didn't cause us any trouble although we always had a lot of police with us, you know, to keep control in case there were any problems. But it was just extraordinary how... how people would want to be there and just be present and... watching this re-enactment of the founder of the nation, their great leader.

The day before we... or the first day of shooting it was, we had a special ceremony, a religious ceremony conducted by a Hindu priest in which the film was blessed and we were all garlanded with marigolds to wish the film success. Of course it worked, it was a success, and it was an extraordinary scene on the first day.

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, 40 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008