Good The Growth Of Hollywood Essay Example
The history of successful venues dedicated to showing films was Pittsburgh’s “The Nickelodeon,” which opened in 1905. At that point in time, programs lasted for about thirty minutes and consisted of several short films. Each week, the management brought in new films. By 1907, thousands of competitors had opened up nationwide, and it was this boom that led to the development of an industry producing and showing films. Because films were silent, they were often exhibited with a pianist providing accompaniment, although larger musical groups appeared too.
As in many other industries, some arguments began to arise about who should receive credit for acting and for ownership of the films. In 1910, actors began to appear in a list of credits at the end of the films, leading to the development of the first stars (Parkinson) Movies were starting to get longer and show some more sophisticated plot development. When the film companies began to fight over patents, a trust was set up to manage the film industry, and each company received a production quota – two reels a week for the largest companies and one reel a week for the rest (Cousins). The trust collapsed in 1912, though, as independent filmmakers had taken over almost half the market and the American government had made fighting the trusts one of its priorities.
In 1913, much of the American film industry moved from New York City to southern California. While the sunshine was a factor, particularly in the development of Westerns and other outdoor pictures, the fact that Thomas A. Edison, Inc. would not budge at attempts to loosen its monopolistic hold on film patents also drove filmmakers out west (Parkinson). Tom Mix and Broncho Billy emerged as the very first cowboy stars in the early Western movies.
World War I proved to be a huge boon for Hollywood. At first, the American film industry took a blow when exhibition practices changed from showing shorter programs with just one reel to longer feature films, and theaters grew in size and upped their ticket prices. However, the conflict in Europe caused France and Germany to curtail their film industries for the duration of the war (Cousins). The Bolshevik Revolution caused many Russian actors to flee the country and contributed to the collapse of film production in the country (Tsivian). As a result, larger film companies like Vitagraph and the Universal Film Manufacturing Company emerged as strong players in Los Angeles after the war finally drew to a conclusion.
Some other changes that took place on the technological side gave the film industry a boost as well. Before 1913, studios were blacked out to allow sunlight to illuminate films. However, the use of spotlights and floodlights began to change this practice. The use of “irising” in and out to open and close scenes became popular during this time as well. Experimenting with circular masks and diagonal and vertical apertures became popular as well. Using “soft focus” to provide expression to a film also became fairly commonplace. This was just the first of many techniques that were introduced to show the feelings that characters had in film.
The upshot is that even years before the “talkies” emerged, the American film industry emerged as one of the potential titans of the twentieth century. The opportunity to pack into theaters and watch movies became one of the iconic American experiences.
Cousins, Mark. The Story of Film: A Worldwide History. New York:
Thunder’s Mouth, 2006.
Parkinson, David. History of Film. New York: Thames & Hudson,
Tsivian, Yuri. Silent Witnesses: Russian Films 1908-1919
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