INI215Y Lecture Week 4 10/1/2012 8:14:00 AM
Introduction: Two Phases of the American Film Industry
Just as early cinema style falls into two distinct phases, so to do
developments within the American film industry—1896-1905/07 and
The three sectors of the American film industry—production,
distribution, and exhibition—developed unevenly, but in interrelated
ways, during these two periods.
The American Film Industry from 1896 until 1905/07
The cinema become institutionalized until 1911.
o What does that mean??
Vaudeville was central to the development of early exhibition,
functioning as the chief exhibition outlet.
One company would send out a package to theatre managers, consisting
of projector and projectionist.
Or travelling exhibition in churches n assembly halls.
o visited especially small towns where there is no Vaudeville
The early exhibitor exercised a substantial amount of control over the
content of what he projected, ordering and even editing film material.
Lyman Howes = famous film exhibitor
The mutually beneficial relationship existing between the vaudeville
theatre and the film producer lent stability to the industry during its first
Film Producer = Producer of equipment. Equivalent term
Development of Distribution Methods
The existing system of outright sale of films discouraged expansion.
Miles Brothers the first actual distributers The key to success in American film industry is always
Edison model: Software(flim) was only made to sell the
People buy the hardware and purchase the films from catalogue.
o problem: Exhibitors were forced to show films as much as
possible to pay off his investment.
o solution: They can trade titles.
The exchange system, a form of film rental, supplanted sales beginning
in 1903, with the exchange operator functioning as a middle man.
Miles Brothers bought the films and rent out the films for a
specific amount of time to the exhibitors. Like a video store.
For much of this period the majority of the footage produced was devoted
to actualités (a proto-documentary form).
Local/national news events, travelogues, kinestatic films that
o problem: if sth exciting aren’t happening people are not
o Thomas Armat “the problem of motion picture business is
that it runs by the spurts. If there is a president
assassinated, the films are gonna run for few months….”
Lets shift more to narrative.
more films that were sold to greater degree were
Story films gained in popularity beginning in 1903, though historians
cannot agree whether they stimulated demand or were a symptom of
The basic method of production employed at this time was the
cameraman system. cameraman system performs all functions: staging,
filming, editing and etc.
was inefficient. You can’t make large number of films
within this system.
Seven producing companies existed in the U.S. by 1907: Edison (NY_,
Biograph, Vitagraph, Lubin (Philie), Selig (Chicago), Kalem (NY), and
the producers cannot keep up the demand of audiences.
Majority films were coming from outside US
The American Film Industry Becomes an Industry: 1905/07-1913
The Switch to Narratives
Why would narratives prove more