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Working for British Transport Films


National Service as a photographer in the RAF
Billy Williams Film-maker
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Then I was 18 and so I was due for call-up, national service; everyone had to do two years national service and I applied to the RAF to be a photographer, and I was quite lucky; I got into the section to train to be a photographer and spent... I think it was 16 weeks training at a place called Wellsbourne Mountford, and then I moved onto a place in Oxford called Nuneham Park, which is... was a subsidiary to Benson. Benson was an aerodrome with a photographic establishment and Nuneham Park was a few miles away, where we did all the printing for the aerial survey work. So we had these wide bands of film that would... would come in and we'd have to print them and then make up the maps for the aerial survey... on to surveys, so it... it was kind of keeping in touch with, in a way with things that I'd had before and also taking still photographs, and it was a very happy time, particularly because I made some very good friends; Sandy Rawlingson who now lives in Australia and Tony Moore who went to live in Canada and... and John Jochimsen whom I'd met at the Colonial Film Unit just before I went to Africa and he was also in the RAF as a photographer.

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, 47 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008