Billy Williams

British cinematographer.

Billy Williams OBE, BSC (born 3 June 1929, Walthamstow, London) is a British cinematographer.

Williams was responsible for shooting a number of films, including Women in Love (1969), Gandhi (1982), for which he won an Oscar, and On Golden Pond (1981). Williams joined his father, also named Billy, as an apprentice cameraman, remaining with him for four years. Later he served in the RAF as a photographer. On leaving the RAF he obtained a job with British Transport Films (BTF), filming all forms of transportation.

After this, it was to Iraq (where he later shot the opening scenes to The Exorcist, 1973), filming for the Iraq Petroleum Company. At this time he owned his own Arriflex camera. He spent several years in documentary work, hoping that one day he could break into features.

Before his feature debut, he became a cameraman on commercials, where he made contact with future directors Ken Russell and John Schlesinger (who had directed for BTF as well). In 1965 he shot his first feature as director of photography, having by-passed the focus puller and operator stages. His first feature offering was San Ferry Ann. He made several others before shooting Billion Dollar Brain with Russell in 1967.

Williams can be seen in a cameo in the film The Wind and the Lion (1975), playing a British nobleman living in Tangier who is killed in a shootout with Sean Connery's Berber tribesmen. He also appeared with Cher in 1987's Suspect.

Williams retired on New Year's Day 1996. Since retirement he has travelled, conducting workshops on film. He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2009 Birthday Honours. Williams is featured in a new book on cinematographers called Conversations with Cinematographers by David A Ellis and published by Scarecrow Press, which is part of the Rowman and Littlefield publishing group.

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