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Being that Hollywood and American Film is an analytical film class, you are expected to dive deep into each film you watch and discuss its meaning every single class. That being said, you have a lot of films to cover, and the class begins at the late 1800s to the early 1900s. It would benefit you to have an idea of what you will be analyzing if you are considering taking the class!

1. Technology

This is probably extremely obvious, but one of the most important components of film is all the technology that makes it happen. Much of the technology you use today actually started out with fancy names such as the kinetoscope (film device) or the vitascope (projector). You will be expected to know these outdated names and analyze the impact each innovation had in the creation of American and Hollywood film, so technology will definitely play a huge role in your class discussions.

 

2. History

In this course, you are not just analyzing film itself, but you will be analyzing the evolution of film and how it came to be an entire culture as well. You will be expected to make sense of all of the concepts mentioned in this article within a historical context, in addition to knowing about the major pioneers of film such as Thomas Edison, Florence Lawrence, and many more.

 

3. Feminism

American film began around the time women were starting to break out of their traditional domestic roles and become suffragettes. You will compare women in film at the start of the industry to women in film now, and you will discover that not much has changed. There were successful women filmmakers, producers, and actresses who helped found film culture, but the reason why you have never heard of them is because they never received credit. It is a certainly an intriguing concept and you will most definitely get into a few debates, but that’s what makes it interesting!

 

4. Location

One concept that people barely know about is where film started, and how if it stayed in its origin then the movie industry would be completely different. Where did it start, you ask? New Jersey! That’s right, Hollywood would not exist if not for West Orange, NJ where Edison developed the kinetoscope. Production occurred all over North Jersey and in New York City, but the main reason for the shift was the weather. Filmmakers could not do anything once the brutal winters hit, so they made the move west and single handedly transformed the way movies are seen by the country today.

 

5. Immigration

Without immigrants, the film industry would not have succeeded. They made up the bulk of the audience at these venues called Nickelodeons where silent films were projected, and the reason for this is because they made up the working class. Leisure time started to become a part of the lifestyle as well, so these immigrants would work during the weekdays and need a cheap place to pass time on the weekends. Hence why they would attend these Nickelodeons, costing only a nickel per person.

 

These concepts don’t seem too difficult, right? If they do, don’t let it keep you from taking this interesting course. Even if your major has nothing to do with film or media, you will still find that you can apply your major to almost all of these concepts, which is good practice for you. Now that you are prepared with a little background knowledge on each of these concepts, it is left to you to formulate your own opinions on them before you take the course!


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Natalia Senanayake


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