A really quick, informative read that will let you know a whole bunch about the earliest days of Hollywood silent film production:
• Silent film production companies averaged three movies per week.
• A good salary for an early Hollywood silent film executive was $50.00 per week
• Silent film extras were paid 1.50 per day.
• There were no stunt doubles.
• The average silent film director was paid $150.00 per week.
• A big-budget production was one that cost $500.00.
• Silent film directors would talk continuously during shooting.
- and much more.
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To be sure, the motion pictures that Hollywood produced during the late teens were very "self-conscious, but they were beginning to develop smartness...
Los Angeles and its environs were crowded with new motion picture companies. The American Film Company, the Vitagraph Company, the Universal Company Christie Comedies and Selig found competitors springing up like weeds after rain: the demand for flickers was enjoying its first boom."
In this article, a 1920s critic forthrightly states that the primitive state of movie cameras renders them unfit as capable tools with which art can be created. He expands on his remarks by pointing out that 1920s film technology generally will never be able to render thought-provoking plots or articulate narratives until some necessary advancements are made in the field.
Another anti-silent film article can be read here...
-an additional article from the 1920s defaming silent film can be read here...
2013 Anno Domini marked the 100th anniversary of the Hollywood film industry. With this in mind it is entirely fitting and proper that we post this thumbnail history that outlines how it all got rolling, as told by the jaded Robert Sherwood, an early film critic who witnessed much of it (although he incorrectly dated the first Hollywood feature film to 1912).
"Hollywood history begins with four men: Jesse Lasky, Cecil B. DeMille, Dustin Farnum and a silent film called "The Squaw Man"...
(The fourth name in Sherwood's list was that of Samuel Goldwyn - who, in fact, had nothing to do with the production, but whose name in Hollywood had such staying power it seemed difficult to imagine that he didn't.)
Screen director D.W. Griffith declared in this article that youthful, energetic performers and writers are needed in the young and vigorous film industry of the Twenties:
"We need youth because the most successful screen stars are not harassed by the technique of the older stage and the requirements of the newer art are very largely different. So a new kind of actor has come to be—the screen actor—just as a new kind of writer is coming to be—the screen-writer. But that isn’t all!... An audience loves a sweet and kindly face on the screen as in life. The surest guide in the world to lead us out of our daily troubles is a little star who is sweet and gentle and kind, like youth with all its yearnings and simplicity."
An article by one of the foot soldiers of legendary silent movie producer Adolf Zukor, in which she recalled a time in 1923 when the future president of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, mailed an unsolicited photoplay (ie. script) to their offices in hopes of securing some measure of Hollywood immortality.
Knowing that FDR had tremendous power in both New York and Washington, Zukor instructed her to let him down gently; twenty years later Roosevelt would chuckle about his ambitions with her at a White House party.
President Lincoln had his own dreams and aspirations...