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Eleni: the true story


Dreamchild: the darkroom scene
Billy Williams Film-maker
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Lewis Carroll was a very noted photographer, and there's a scene in a darkroom which we shot in a makeshift studio in Oxford as a weather cover, and we had a window with a backing and the scene starts in daylight and Lewis Carroll, played by Ian Holm, and the little girl are together alone in this small darkroom and he's got all the equipment, the period equipment, which we borrowed from the... the photographic establishment, so it was all authentic. And it starts in daylight; he draws the blind and it... it goes into almost darkness. He lights the match and lights a candle so it goes from white light to yellow light and then he picks up a red filter, which was an authentic red lamp filter, and places the red lamp over the candle and the rest of the scene is played in red light, so I'd got the trans... transformation with three different coloured lights and three different exposures, all in the one shot, and in order to do it I had to cut... cut a hole in the side of the set, just under the candle, to get the light in and that worked very well. But it's a scene where you are wondering what kind of man Carroll is, because there's been some doubt over the years whether he was a paedophile, and this is a theme which runs through the film which, in the original script was quite sort of pronounced, but when it came to the editing stage, they... they cut a lot of scenes which had references to, you know, him and young children, so that in the final film, it's sort of just there, but not in a very obvious way. So we had this scene in... in the... in the red light with this mature man and this little girl and she’s... he's asking her about whether she will get married when she's older and... and will she... will she invite him round and give him cucumber sandwiches and... it's beautifully sensitively played scene, Ian is such a lovely actor, and you never for a moment felt scared for the little girl, but in the context with the rest of the film, you know, the audience are given sort of, clues as to, you know, what kind of man he was really like, but as I say, it was a lovely film.

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, 37 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008