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The success of Gandhi at the Oscars


The collaboration between British and Indian crews on Gandhi
Billy Williams Film-maker
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At the filming of... of Gandhi was a marvellous collaboration between the British and the Indian crew. Because I had... I only had one English camera crew using a Panaflex and the second camera was an Indian crew. The second unit had a director cameraman called Govind Nihalani who did some lovely work including the battle scenes when the partition of India came. A marvellous sequence that he did as a director cameraman, so he made a big contribution. And we had Indian electricians working alongside, you know, our English gaffer and best boy. And we had an English production office and an Indian production office because the organisation was extraordinary. I mean, we'd... we’d be shooting in one place with a crowd of 5000 one day and the next day we'd be, you know, 50 miles away somewhere else with another huge crowd and all this had to be co-ordinated, we had to have translators and... David Tomblin, the first assistant director did an incredible job of communicating everything and keeping it all under control. It was a great work of collaboration and we finished on schedule and we finished on budget, and the picture was edited. And then of course we went into the grading session at Technicolor.

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, 34 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008