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Making a few extra bob


Working with my father during the war
Billy Williams Film-maker
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We started travelling and because the war was still on, we'd lived through part of the Blitz and for a period I'd gone down to... we'd been evacuated to the West Country but then came back. So we stayed in this house throughout most of the... most of the war and, you know, if... sometimes one would go into a shelter at night and other times you'd just, you know, stay and hope for the best. And so we started making films for the... the Admiralty — the Royal Naval Air Service — and I went to a number of air stations and, they... they were training films, and then we did a number of industrial films. I remember going to the... the factory where they make Raleigh bicycles and I couldn't believe how noisy it was, how noisy the working conditions were for these people, but it was another interesting side of life, and... we also did three and four-reelers that were programme fillers for the cinemas and I can remember several of them; one was called Boys Of The Old Brigade, which was about the Chelsea pensioners; another one was set in Cornwall, Land Of The Saints, a travel film; another one was called Animal Wonderland, where we went to Chessing... London Zoo and... and Whipsnade and filmed the animals, and then a bit later on, just when the full... war was getting near to its end, we went to the hop fields and made a... a children's film called Here We Come Gathering, and it... it was children working... working, collecting the hops in the summer of 1944 I think it was, so the war was getting towards an end.

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, 3 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008