Chapter 2- How the Movies Became Big Business
Eastern part of the US began moving their production facilities to the West Coast where
they began setting up operations in a suburb of Los Angeles called Hollywood.
One factor was the West Coast weather, which improved conditions for film production,
longer daylight hours, and fewer seasonal changes.
In 1908 a number of the biggest film equipment manufacturers, film producers and film
distributors joined together to create a trust.
The Motion Picture Patents Company (MPPC), founded in 1908, was modeled after the
monopolies in other American industries, such as steel and oil.
MPPC was often referred to as the “Edison Trust” (the Edison company being one of its
key members); its birth signalled the acceptance of the film industry as a significant
player in the American entertainment industries.
The Trust was an attempt to monopolize the American film industry as it was emerging.
Competitors or “independents” had to pay a license fee for the use of any of the Trust’s
patents, and exhibitors could only rent films from Trust-controlled exchanges.
But by 1915, the federal court declared the MPPC an illegal conspiracy in restraint of
Upstart indie competitors had already weakened the Trust’s hold over the industry,
especially since the Trust was never able to manufacture and distribute enough films to
meet the demands of the American film audience.
A number of film production, distribution and exhibition companies were already in
place to gain control of the industry. These companies would form the basis of the
famous Hollywood studio system that would be fully formed by the mid 1930’s. Instead
of monopoly, the American film industry would become an oligopoly.
Labor costs had a key role to play in the development of the film industry. New York
was a union town; LA was not.
Early movie moguls wanted to keep trade unions out of the industry to maintain
complete control over their businesses.
Wages in LA were significantly lower than in NY. Between 1908 and the mid-teens
most of the large movie companies moved their production facilities from the East to the
newly developing LA suburb of Hollywood where land was still fairly cheap. It is here
that the audio system of production was born.
Audience expectations become more sophisticated and documentary filmmakers traveled
far and wide to record more exotic images. It was expensive and as a result, film
companies have decided to focus on fictional films. This way costs could be controlled
by the creation of sets and by filming all scenes in one studio.
1903, the production of fictional narratives too off. Significant filmmaker during this
period was Edwin S. Porter, filmed The Great Train Robbery (1904) and Life of an
American Fireman (1903).
D. W. Griffith
David Wark Griffith, influential film director, failed playwright-actor.
He helped develop an editing approach that would be adopted by most filmmakers.
He made the feature film the main product of the industry despite initial hostility from his
employer, the Biograph Company. Between 1908-1913, Griffith had directed nearly 500 films that were from one to two
reels in length, 10-20 mins long.
He employed devices like the close-up and parallel editing, neither of which he invented,
but which he employed in such creative ways
Biograph was one of the members of the MPPC. Its main function was to crank out films