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Almost backing out of Agaguk


Filming Stella
Billy Williams Film-maker
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Stella was a remake of Stella Dallas, with Bette... Bette Midler in the... in the starring role and the film was for Walt Disney and at that time she was her... their biggest star and so a great deal of trouble was gone to... to ensure that I knew how best to photograph her. In fact, they arranged for Dante Spinotti, the Italian cinematographer who'd just finished a picture with her, to stop off at London airport and to come here and, you know, have lunch with me and talk about how to photograph Bette Midler. Well, the outcome of it all was that she always had to be in close-up, she had to be  on the... the right of screen, looking right to left so that we favoured the left side of her face. And when I got to meet Bette and we talked about this, she was quite happy to see the other side if she was in long shot, but as soon as we came in close we had to find a way of... of getting round to her best side and in fact, the... the set was designed with that in mind so that the entrances and exits were... worked the right way for us, and once we got shooting she was fine. She was... a tremendous amount of fun, a really nice person but very sadly I didn't get on with the director, who didn't like to have any jokes on set, so the whole filmmaking process was rather serious and... it wasn't a... a happy time but fortunately I had my long time gaffer, George Cole, with me and also a very good Canadian camera opera... camera operator, Andy Chmura.

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, 48 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008