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My father's experiences in Africa


My father's cameras
Billy Williams Film-maker
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My father had a... a variety of cameras over the years and I think in the... in the early '20s he was either using a Williamson or a Moy. Later on, in my memory, he had a 400ft Debrie Parvo, which he could hand crank and I remember he used to do... he used to do the titles for his films as... as well as the production and he'd... he’d got a mechanism on the Debrie camera where he was hand cranking and he'd press another lever and it would fade out, then he'd wind... wind back, change the title, press the fade button and start rolling again, and you'd have a dissolve in the camera, which of course was... was much cheaper and also much better than doing it in the laboratory. So he had this wonderful old Debrie camera – well it wasn't old then – made of wood and he... I remember he used to buy lenses and scale them himself, and maintain the whole thing and... that was a very important part of... of his life because if he didn't have a camera then, you didn't work. There were no rental houses and so each... each cameraman had his own gear.

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, 31 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008