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Shooting the coal pit sequences for Women in Love


Successful day for night scenes in Women in Love
Billy Williams Film-maker
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The film was mainly shot in England and there were extensive scenes in countryside because, you know, Lawrence wrote very much about the... the elements of air and earth and fire and water, and the novel really captures all of these... these qualities, and... and Ken Russell, I think, was the perfect director to recreate that in a movie. So there were... there were many scenes in... in the forest and some of those we did day for night with the house in the background and again, I used this... this 3N5 filter, shot it as the daylight was getting low and put tungsten lights in the house behind, so that you had the yellowy quality of tungsten and the blue green of the day for night quality. And there were other scenes that we did in the forest where he... he's just had an argument with... with... Alan Bates has had... had an argument with... with his then lover, played by Eleanor Bron, and she's hit him with a paperweight and he runs away and there's blood streaming down his head, and he runs away from the house into the forest and it's a forest of birch trees and so we had these beautiful birch trees, which were ideal for day for night... because when you do day for night, because everything's much darker, you need contrast. If you don't have contrast within the scene, you know, you finish up with just a... an area of dark grey, so you need tones of... of light and dark, and... and usually when one does day for night, you do it in sunlight so that the sunlight looks like moonlight and you get the contrast.

Well, as it happened, when we shot this, it was an overcast day. So we shot in this forest and... with overcast light and... again, I used this... the 3N5 filter and because there was so much contrast between dark trees and the silver birch, and Alan Bates had all this blood streaming down his face and he was wearing a white shirt, it was a very convincing day for night look. There was another scene where he lies in a... in a field of long grass and I wanted the feeling of... of early morning dew, and so we sprayed the whole of the area with... with water  so that it was like dew drops on this very tall grass, about 3 feet high, and then I back lit it with a Brute to bring out the... the globules of water so that they sparkled, and he lies down in this grass and he kind of cleanses himself with the glass... with the... with the wet grass and wipes off all the blood from his face and his body, and it's a kind of cleansing moment, and he's using this... this grass and water to kind of clear his mind of this woman that he wants to get away from. And it's this kind of getting close to nature, which is so apparent in the film.

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, 32 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008