The invention of the camera and photography was the predecessor technology that allowed cinema to form. Photography was seen as high culture: photography as art (recording nature and landscapes, biography, bodies of beauty) driven by the eye of the photographer and in low culture: photography as memory (people, places, events and pornography) driven by the age of the audience.
Cinema was only one form of technology among many others concerning moving imagery. Many of the early devices used hand-drawn illustrations, but it was the medium of photography that would provide the basis of cinema. Muybridge’s Horse (1886) is an example containing a rapid sequence of still photographs capturing the motion of a horse in full gallop. It captured motion in a realistic way – as it really happens.
‘One must free the cinema as an expressive medium in order to make it the ideal instrument of a new art, immensely vaster and lighter than all the existing arts’.
Before World War One, European film dominated the international market. Denmark, France and Italy were leading exporters. The French contributed between 60/70% of the global trade. Pathe were the largest French studio.
Further developments in technology led to the formation of modern media. The film industry provided early internationalism. In 1910 the largest film producer in the world was France; the second largest was Denmark – both exported their products globally. By 1918, 85% of the world’s production came from the USA.
America’s rapid move to dominance over the film industry was in part due to the large size of the American domestic market: production costs could be met by domestic sales; world wide distribution added greater profit and, it was also in part due to the multi-lingual nature of the American audience: the development of a visual language that could transcend linguistic barriers.
Following World War One, independent studios flourished in Hollywood. This emerges as a global superpower in movie markets. There was cheap land to build huge studio lots, a good predictable climate which enabled outdoor shoots all year around, business savvy strategy of ‘vertical integration’ which enhanced profitability and capital investment and they were able to attract major international artists and technicians. By 1918, 85% of the world film production was happening in Hollywood.
The formation of the cinema audience started with the urban theatre-going audiences which already existed through working class music halls and burlesque shows. Discourses of leisure were developing around media consumption. A shift towards narrative cinema created a new engagement between audience and actors.
Movie producers realised that audiences would care about familiar faces, particularly if they knew the actors themselves. Movie ‘stars’ were used to hook audiences to particular products.
In Britain, the film industry was weak. They were more concerned with distribution rather than production.
These are notes from my semester one lectures and seminars.
I do not own the above image, it is from: http://710keel.com/la-film-industry-wont-sue-over-new-tax-credit-law/