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Filming Stella


Film noir for children
Billy Williams Film-maker
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Just Ask for Diamond, the screenplay by Anthony Horowitz, directed by Steven Bayly, and it was a children's film with... with money from the Children's Film Foundation, but that wasn't the original title. It was intended to be called The Falcon's Malteser and it was a spoof on The Maltese Falcon, but the key prop, instead of being the falcon, was a packet of Maltesers, of which the barcode was the key to opening a treasure chest of diamonds. And two boys, a... a 12 year old and an 18 or 20 year old play the detectives and the 12 year old boy, Colin, is really the hero of the piece. And, we had a... quite a... you know, a distinguished cast of supporting actors like Susannah York and Patricia Hodge and Michael Medwin, you were on the picture. Jimmy... Jimmy Nail. Jimmy Nail and Bill Paterson, and it was a comedy for children, but it was made in the film noir style with film noir references and film noir lighting style, so I... I had to, you know, introduce long, hard shadows against the wall and shadows against a glass door of an office and things that echoed the film... the earlier film. And it was lot of fun to do but I think from an audience point of view at the time, it seemed to fall between two stools because young children didn't really understand film noir and film noir audiences didn't... weren't particularly drawn to a... a story that was principally for younger... a younger audience so on its release it didn't do particularly well. Well, the DVD came out very recently; I showed it to my eight year old granddaughter, Hannah, and a friend of hers of the same age, they both thought it was marvellous, they thought it was really good picture, so there's an audience there for it. But it was a lot of fun to do, shooting around London and at Elstree Studios, very enjoyable picture.

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, 33 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008