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The cinema comes to Hollywood
How did Hollywood begin? A Kansas couple, Harvey and Daidia Wilcox, came to Los Angeles in 1883, when there were just orange and lemon farms in the area. Three years later, they owned fifty hectares of land which they called Hollywood.
The Wilcoxes sold the land, bit by bit, and the first Hollywood studio was built in 1911 by the Nestor Company. The American filmmakers came to California because the weather was good, and because the Californian workers were cheap to employ. In 1913, Cecil B. DeMille came to Hollywood and started what became known as Paramount Studios. Universal Studios started about the same time, the Fox Company two years later (joining with 20th Century Pictures in 1935), United Artists in 1919 and Warner Brothers, MGM, and Columbia in the early 1920s. If you wanted to ‘get into the movies’, Hollywood was the place to go!
The first films were silent. The words of the actors appeared on cards which were shown every twenty seconds or so. Suitable music was played during the film by an orchestra, or by one person on a piano.
Edwin S. Porter was the filmmaker who introduced film ‘editing’ - cutting the film and putting it back together again with the shots in a different order. This made the films more exciting to watch. His film, The Great Train Robbery (1903), is a good example of this.
Until 1910, audiences did not know the names of their favourite actors and actresses. Actresses were given names like ‘The Biograph Girl’ or ‘The Vitagraph Girl’ or were not named at all. Carl Laemmle, chief of Independent Motion Pictures (which later became Universal Studios) was the first to name a star, when he employed Florence Lawrence. By 1913, every studio was naming its actors and actresses.
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