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Cast and crew of Billion Dollar Brain


Getting the job on Billion Dollar Brain
Billy Williams Film-maker
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Then I got a phone call from Harry Salzman's office. Now Harry Salzman, as you know, had done the Bond pictures. He'd done two Harry Palmer pictures, 'The Ipcress File' and 'Funeral In Berlin' with Michael Caine and he was setting up 'Billion Dollar Brain', and Ken Russell was going to direct it. Well Otto Heller had been engaged to photograph the picture. Half of it was going to be at Pinewood and half of it was going to be in Finland in the winter, in the snow, and they'd already gone out to Finland on a recce and Otto had had a look around and he'd seen all the locations and made his equipment list, and when they came back the production manager, a lady called Eva Momney, said to Harry Salzman, look, you know, we're going to be working in a very cold environment out there and Otto's not so young; I think he should have a medical before we go. And Otto wouldn't have the medical; he refused to have a medical examination, so that meant, of course, they didn't have- couldn't have insurance on him, which meant he was off the picture. And so Harry Salzman then offered Ken a very famous British cinematographer to shoot the picture and Ken turned him down; he said he didn't want him. Harry Salzman said- well who do you want to photograph this picture and Ken asked for me. Well I had shot about six commercials for Ken over a period of two or three years I suppose; maybe six or eight commercials and we got on fine. And so this came, you know, as a great surprise to be offered this big picture, so I went up to meet Salzman and Ken, and talk about things. They wanted to see some of my work, so I was able to get the cutting copy of 'Red And Blue', the film I'd just finished with Tony Richardson, and I showed it to them and I got the job.

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, 14 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008