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Soft lighting in advertising


My heroes in cinematography
Billy Williams Film-maker
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My heroes, I suppose at that time were Gregg Toland, you know, obviously Citizen Kane and Grapes Of Wrath, and Jimmy Wong Howe, the American cameraman — the Japanese American — his work was always very interesting and I liked the work of a Russian cameraman, Eduard Tisse, who I think did Ivan The Terrible, and Aleksander Nevsky; those films were... Very dramatic. Very dramatic and wonderfully striking imagery, and Guy Green of course, whose, you know, his black and white was just magnificent, Oliver Twist and Great Expectations. And then in colour, I... Jack Cardiff, of course, was, I think, the leading British cinematographer of the time, and I remember The Red Shoes and Black Narcissus, and then a film he did later on called The Vikings, which had some wonderful stuff with these long boats and I remember dusk scenes with lights in the boats and I thought that was all very impressive. He seemed to be doing a lot of very innovative work, Jack. And I remember a French film called The River, which was Renoir, wasn't it? Renoir. I think it was made in India, wasn't it? Made in India, yes, and of course, Kurosawa, Seven Samurai was in black and white; that was a magnificent film with all those battle scenes in the rain. And I think of more my... more contemporary heroes, once I'd become established, was Sven Nykvist, a Swedish cameraman, because I... he always seemed to be able to create a very naturalistic look. It was dramatic but at the same time naturalistic and I liked the way he... he lit faces. I... I also liked the films he did with Bergman. He used very few lights I believe? Very, very few lights, yes. I met him a few times and I always remember him saying: 'It is better to keep... keep things simple; it's better to be simple.' There's a lot to be said for that.

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, 36 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008