Hollywood’s Journey –

Hollywood, La-La-Land founded in the heart of City of Angels.

Hollywood, the World’s Largest Producer in Film Making.

We all know what film is. Everyone of us has seen at least one film in their lifetime.

But how did the Film Making started?


Origin of Motion Picture:

In late 1800’s, ‘Motion Toys’ such as thaumatrope and zoetrope were invented. These modern inventions were designed to trick the eye into seeing an illusion of motion. The phantasm was created by displaying still frames in a quick succession.

Example of Thaumatrope

 

Example of Zoetrope

In 1872, Leland Stanford, former California governor and founder of Stanford University was convinced, when the horse trots or gallops, it becomes fully airborne. To gather evidence, he hired Eadweard Muybridge to document his theory.

Since the cameras of that time were not able to capture quick picture, Muybridge developed a technique. He arranged 12 cameras over the Palo Alto racetrack of Stanford’s estate at California.

Each camera was trip-wired; each would trigger a picture for a split second as the horse ran by. The images were developed on site itself. The sequence of image proved, that all hooves of a horse are off the ground for a split second when it runs. The sequence of the image gave birth to the first True Motion Picture.

In 1880, William H. Walker founded the photographic camera manufacturing business called Wm. H. Walker & Co. in Rochester, New York. It mainly focused on manufacturing Walker’s Pocket Camera, a small compact wooden camera.

Three years later, he sold his business and joined George Eastman’s company.  In 1885, the duo introduced Eastman-Walker Roll Holder for a roll film. This was the First Film for Motion Photography.

Eastman-Walker Roll Holder for a roll film

In 1895, Lumière Brothers invented Cinematographer, a combination camera, and projector. This revolutionary invention could capture picture and project still frame in quick succession.

In 1905, Nickelodeons became quite popular among masses. Nickelodeons meaning 5-cent movie theaters offered an inexpensive way for the public to watch movies.

It helped the film industry by increasing the public appeal and generating more money for filmmakers. After the World War I ended, Hollywood – a new industry of motion picture was on rise.


Birth of Hollywood:

In 1853, today’s Hollywood was a single adobe hut on land outside Los Angeles, California. The soil of this land was suitable for harvest and by 1870; a small thriving agricultural community was formed. The green area was then called Cahuenga Valley.

In the 1880s, Hobart Johnstone Whitley had brought about 500 acres of the land. Since he was a major shareholder and the President of Los Angeles Pacific Boulevard and Development Company, he arranged the development of this newly acquired land. He constructed famous ‘Hollywood Hotel’ and residential area of ‘Ocean View Tract’. Whitney also sent thousands of dollars to build Bank and road into the Cahuenga Pass. He also provided the city with electricity.

Hobart Johnstone Whitley with his wife and children

In 1886, he and his wife coined the word Hollywood for the newly formed town. Hence, he is often regarded as Father of Hollywood.

In 1887, a prime investor Harvey H. Wilcox, officially named the town ‘Hollywood’ when he recorded it on the land’s deed. On 1st February 1887, a grid map of the new town was submitted to the Los Angeles County recorder’s office. It was the First Official Document with the name Hollywood on it.

By early 20th century, Hollywood had a population of 500 with a post office, a newspaper, a hotel and two markets. The first street of Hollywood was named as Prospect Avenue. In 1902, the first portion of renowned Hollywood Hotel was built. In 1903, Hollywood was registered as a municipality.

But in 1910, the new city merged with Los Angeles to secure water supply and gain access to L.A sewer system. Prospect Avenue was now called as Hollywood Boulevard.

Before annexation, Hollywood city had banned Movie Theatres. But thanks to the merger, L.A had no such restriction.


The ”HOLLYWOOD” sign:

In 1923, the symbol was installed to advertise a new subdivision named Hollywood land’, near the top of Mount Lee. But later, the sign began falling into disrepair.

Hollywood Land

In 1943, The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce was given authority to remove the last four-letter (i.e. LAND) and restore the remaining portions of the sign on the hillside.


Development of Film Studios:

Thomas Edison, the Greatest American Inventor held the patent for Kinetograph – a motion picture camera. The success of this modern camera spread like a wildfire in America and European markets like Britain, Germany, France, Belgium, Austria-Hungary, and Brussels. This made him an un-crowned dictator of the movie industry.

His company Thomas Edison’s Motion Picture Patents Company based in New Jersey would often sue the independent filmmaker and stop their production. Edison didn’t always win the case, but the cost of judicial battle was overwhelming to the rivals. This made filmmakers run to Los Angeles area where Edison’s patent rules weren’t imposed. Plus, the ideal weather condition and varied terrain provided a perfect shooting location for films.

Soon Los Angeles became a capital of Film Industry. 


  Hollywood’s First Film:

The Biography Company, a.k,a the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company was the first U.S  company which was completely devoted towards film production and showcasing it. From 1895 to 1916, the studio released 3000 short films and 12 feature film, making it most prolific studio. During the era of Silent Films, Biograph became one of the most influential and respected studios in the world.

Biograph became one of the most influential and respected studios in the world.

D.W.Griffith, a pioneer director was shooting for The Biograph’s production in Georgia Street in Downtown Los Angeles. The company began to explore a nearby area for shooting when they stumbled across a small city named Hollywood. The breath-taking scenery and friendly people convinced Griffith to shoot his next venture in this city.

Finally, in 1910, The Biograph shot the First Film in Hollywood named In Old California.

The film starring, Frank Powell, Arthur V. Johnson, Marion Leonard was a historical dramatization of Mexican era of California in the early 19th century.

While the script was written by Stanner E. V. Taylor.

This D. W. Griffith director venture was 17-minute silent movie which was released on 10th March 1910. The success of the film made other filmmakers heading down to the west and setting up shops. On 6th May 2004, in honor of the movie, a monument was erected at 1713 Vine Street, just north of Hollywood Boulevard. The film which was once considered as lost was viewed by the public after 94 years.


Controversy:

According to industry myth, the First Film made in Hollywood was Cecil B. Demille’s “The Squaw Man” released in 1914, when its Director decided last minute to shoot in Los Angeles,

The Squaw Man

BUT, In Old California, an earlier film directed by D.W.Griffith had been filmed entirely in the village of Hollywood in 1910, before its merger with L.A.

So, The First Film of Hollywood is “In Old California

The First Feature-Length film of Hollywood is “The Squaw Man

In 1911, New Jersey based Centaur Company built The First Motion Picture Studio in Hollywood. The studio constructed at 6121 Sunset Boulevard was named as Nestor Company. The first Hollywood Studio then shot its first film on 26th October 1911.

Nestor Company

Later, movie studio began to pile up in Hollywood sector. Some major film studios like Warner Bros., Paramount, RKO and Columbia along with minor film companies and rental studios were built in Hollywood. Hollywood became the 5th Largest Industry in America.

Today, Hollywood produces nearly 500 films every year. The income from these film amounts up to $12 billion dollars.


Writer: Siddhesh Parab


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