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I forgot to fire the gun!


My debut as an actor
Billy Williams Film-maker
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John Milius was casting in Spain and although he'd got all the principles of course, there were several smaller parts that he was hoping to cast locally and I went into the office one day and he said, ’You can play Sir Joseph’, and I said, ’What do you mean?’ ‘Yes’, he said ’You'd be just right for Sir Joseph’. Well, Sir Joseph is the British Vice Consul in Tangier in 1904 and I was cast for the role. I said, ’Well I've got no... I, you know, I have got no experience of filmmaking’... ’Don't worry, don't worry, it'll be fine, it'll be fine’, and so right at the beginning of the picture there are several scenes of this band of brigands – Sean Connery's band – rampaging through and destroying various villages and this... these scenes are inter-cut with the European quarter of Tangier, which is very tranquil and peaceful and there's this beautiful garden, a lovely house, and Candice Bergen – Mrs Pedecaris – who's going to be kidnapped, is sitting at table with the British Vice Consul in Tangier talking about the wine and the servants while her two children play in the garden, and I'm cast as the British Vice Consul. So my big day comes, you see, and as it happened Anne, my wife, and my daughter Jo, were there on the day we shot the scene, and we were down in Almaria and it was very hot and I had to wear a white suit, which was about half an inch thick — it was terribly hot — with a waistcoat, an Eton tie, a gold watch and chain and a shoulder holster in which I have a Browning pistol – automatic pistol. And the sequence is that I'm sitting there with... with Candy talking about the wine and so on and the wait... waiter comes up with a bottle of wine, and at that moment this band of brigands bursts through a rose garden trellis and come charging towards us, across a pond with some ducks on it, at which point... this is in rehearsal, at which point I have to get up, draw my pistol, shout: ’Brigands!’, move to a mark, take aim and fire when the first horseman is half way across the duck pond, at which point he would take a... a fall, you see.

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, 3 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008