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Father filmed the German surrender at Scapa Flow


Receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Camerimage festival
Billy Williams Film-maker
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There's a film festival which is held in Poland in December each year, called Camerimage and I've been going there for the last four years now, and I shall be going again this year. And that's absolutely wonderful, especially, I think, for any young person who is interested in cinematography because hundreds of students go and dozens and dozens of leading cinematographers. During the course of the week they show about 15 or 16 films that are in competition for the best cinematography. They have a whole day devoted to student films. Last year I was on the jury for the student films and saw 42 films in one day. And some... some of the work was absolutely astounding. The film that won the... what's called The Golden Tadpole — that's the top award — was marvellous,; marvellous piece of cinematography, and it was done by a student. And so... and there's a lot of the, you know, experimental work being done by... by younger filmmakers that we can all learn a lot from and it's a great coming together of... of people who love cinematography. And I was greatly honoured when, in the year 2000, they told me they would like to give me a Lifetime Achievement award and they'd like to produce a book featuring my career, which... which they did beautifully. And on the Saturday, the last Saturday of... of the week, they have all the awards for the best film and the best student film and so on, and they make this Lifetime Achievement award and, you know, I was joined in this roster from previous years of people like Haskell Wexler and Vilmos Zsigmond and László Kovács, Conrad Hall, Vittorio Storaro, Sven Nykvist, Giuseppe Rotunno, Witold Sobociński and all these wonderful cameramen, and I thought how... greatly honoured I was to be included. So it was a great occasion and Ann came over to be with me and of course, I had to make an acceptance speech and I said that the really... the reason I was standing here was really due to luck because I was lucky that my father was a cinematographer and I was introduced to cameras and filmmaking at a very early age. I was lucky in the directors and actors that I'd worked with during my career and I was lucky that I'd had such a wonderful partner as Anne, who’s always been so supportive and understanding, and always reads the scripts of all the movies that I've done and... and she's given me wonderful support throughout my career and... and I've enjoyed it and I've had a marvellous time and I'm still having a marvellous time, so, you know, I'm happy.

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: 3 minutes, 15 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008