5 Fast Facts About Early Hollywood
Posted on: Sep 09, 2021
When we look at the glitz and glam of modern-day Hollywood, we often forget that the moviemaking industry had a rocky start. In other words, old Hollywood had it rough. Filmmakers were despised by locals, editors didn’t have as much influence as they do now, and terms as we know them didn’t even exist.
It’s hard to imagine what those early days were like, so we rounded up a few historical facts to bring you a glimpse of how it all really started.
1. Documentaries were originally called ‘actuality’ films
The first actuality film was produced in 1914 by Edward Curtis, the man who gave us the famous photographs of Native American tribes and members. These nonfiction works were usually no more than two minutes and weren’t even edited, consisting of basically whatever the actuality maker captured at the time. With TikToks and shorts presently all the rage, it’s almost like we’ve come full circle.
2. The very first patented film camera was designed in England by Louis Le Prince
Le Prince built and patented a 16-lens camera in 1887 at his workshop in Leeds, and patented it in 1888. The Le Prince Single-lens Cine Camera used paper-backed stripping film and pre-dated the motion picture devices Thomas Edison and the Lumière brothers had been receiving credit for inventing by half a decade. Unfortunately for Le Prince, he went missing just before a scheduled public performance of his technology. His disappearance has been speculated, but never solved, to this day.
3. Directors invented close-ups
In the early 1900s, the transition of a distant shot to a close-up was not the work of editors, but of the director. This was done by mounting the camera man on wheels and then on a track, which physically moved the camera closer to what was being shot. This ancient movie technique was used for the very first time in the movie “Photographing a Female Crook,” which was filmed in 1904.
4. TV saved the industry
When TVs started gaining popularity in the ’50s, movie studios were beginning to lose money. Hollywood studios began to produce more hours of film for TV than for feature films. This marked the major transition for Hollywood studios into television production. In 1953, the first Academy Awards were televised by NBC, and the broadcast received the largest single audience in network TV’s five-year history.
5. Poverty Row was a Hollywood studio district in the shabbier part of town
The term was used from the late 1920s to the mid 1950s, referring to several small and B-movie studios, many of which didn’t make it. They produced cheap independent films that used stock footage and B-list actors. That said, Disney, Monogram Pictures, Republic Pictures and 20th Century Pictures all had studios in this area, too.
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