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Love at first sight


Baghdad in the mid '50s
Billy Williams Film-maker
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I remember Baghdad as being in... in the early 50s, mid-50s rather, as being almost like a medieval city and it was... it was people carrying loads on their back, enormous loads, extremely heavy – a very, very strong people the Iraqi people – and it's very colourful and you'd see carpets laid out in the streets... new carpets, which they wanted to look more aged so they'd put them in the roadway and all the cars would drive over them and break them down. And they'd sell them as antiques, would they? They'd look more like antique carpets, yes. But I made some good friends there because the Iraq Petroleum Company had... had set up a film unit in Baghdad and the assistants, the assistant cameramen and the assistant directors were Iraqis, so we made some very good friends there and we used to play cricket –; cricket in Baghdad – terribly English, and so that was a marvellous experience and I was there for about four months.

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, 8 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008