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The recreation of Gandhi's funeral


The success of Gandhi at the Oscars
Billy Williams Film-maker
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Dickie had gone into the picture without a distribution deal. And it was made with independent finance. And so after we'd been shooting for about six weeks, he made up a show reel and sent it to Hollywood and created a great deal of interest and then a few weeks later he enlarged the show reel and he really got the major studios competing for this picture. It was a marvellous way of handling things and it was working because we were getting good material. And so in the end Columbia came up with the best deal, worldwide, and the picture was released on a selective basis in December. And it was shown to the Academy Members and it... I think it got 11 Oscar nominations, which was absolutely tremendous. I think it was the most a British picture had ever had. And... of course then it... having got the nominations it... it went into a general release and the Academy awards were in March and together with Anne I went to the awards ceremony. I'd been there the year before because I'd been nominated for On Golden Pond and hadn't succeeded. And so you sit there in a line with your fellow nominees, your fellow cinematographers, but you don't know if you're going to win. Nobody knows except the two scrutineers from Price Waterhouse, they're the only people that know the winners, and it's a very closely guarded secret. Which... what’s... it’s what makes the Academy awards so exciting is that there are all sorts of guesses and bets about who is going to win. We had no idea we were going to win eight Oscars, including cinematography of course. And I had to go up and receive two Oscars, one for me and one for Ronnie Taylor. Because Ron... unfortunately Ronnie couldn't be there and, you know, I... I thanked Ronnie and the... all the... everybody for all that they'd done. And also thanked Anne for her... for her love and support. And it was a marvellous moment, you know, a tremendous feeling of exhilaration. And, the picture went on to receive critical acclaim and become a commercial success, and so we were all rewarded. It was a wonderful achievement I'm most proud of, yes.

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, 41 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008