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Working with Ken Russell again on The Rainbow


Working with Cher in Suspect
Billy Williams Film-maker
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Cher was the star of 'Suspect. She was about 43 years old, I think, at the time and she wanted to look absolutely flawless, and this was made clear to me by the makeup man, who also worked with Faye Dunaway, and so I... the only way I could light her was by a soft light directly above the lens or maybe slightly to the left or right, and with good make-up and a little bit of diffusion, that could be achieved. But when she went into make-up everything was pinned back to draw everything tight and then she wore this very dark wig, so all the scenes in the court room had to be lit by a front light, but we were shooting a thriller and so there were many occasions when I wanted to shoot with cross-light or three-quarter backlight, so I had to kind of try and make the two things work by just treating her separately from the rest of the scene. Towards the end of the picture, there's a chase sequence which takes place in the real cells beneath the court room in Washington and I was able there to change my way of lighting her, because instead of using a soft light, I used hard light, and you get a harder light with a... a Fresnel lamp by opening the door, so I did it mainly with 2Ks; by opening the door you get a really sharp effect from prison bars and so on, so I had her moving in and out of light and shade, which created, you know, an exciting and dramatic effect, which, you know, made a change from seeing her always flatly lit.

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, 54 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008