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Billy Williams OBE, BSC (born 3 June 1929, Walthamstow, London) is a British cinematographer.[1][2]

Williams was responsible for shooting a number of films, including Women in Love (1969), On Golden Pond (1981) and Gandhi (1982), for which he won an Academy Award.[3] 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.[4]

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).[5] In 1965, he shot his first feature as director of photography (San Ferry Ann), having by-passed the focus puller and operator stages. He made several others before shooting Billion Dollar Brain with Russell in 1967.[1]

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.[6] Williams is featured in the book Conversations with Cinematographers by David A. Ellis, published by Scarecrow Press.[7]

Selected filmography


  1. ^ a b "Billy Williams". Archived from the original on 11 November 2017.
  2. ^ "BSC Members - British Society of Cinematographers".
  3. ^ "Billy Williams - Biography, Movie Highlights and Photos - AllMovie". AllMovie.
  4. ^ "Cinematography: A Dialogue with Billy Williams OBE, BSC & Vanessa Whyte – University of Greenwich Galleries".
  6. ^ "No. 59090". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 June 2009. p. 13.
  7. ^ Ellis, David A. (11 November 2017). Conversations with Cinematographers. Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810881266 – via Google Books.