front cover of Pacific Tremors
Pacific Tremors
Richard Stern
Northwestern University Press, 2001
Ez Keneret and Wendell Spear are Hollywood veterans who have committed the only sin in the movie business: they've grown old. Having been cast aside, they face their obsolescence and the harsh reality that the art they appreciate (and profit from) is just a business powered by money and celebrity. While Spear is consoled and comforted by his granddaughter, Keneret centers his comeback film on Leet de Loor, a stunning but painfully wooden "actress" he discovers in Fiji.

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The Phantom Holocaust
Soviet Cinema and Jewish Catastrophe
Gershenson, Olga
Rutgers University Press, 2013
Even people familiar with cinema believe there is no such thing as a Soviet Holocaust film. The Phantom Holocaust tells a different story. The Soviets were actually among the first to portray these events on screens. In 1938, several films exposed Nazi anti-Semitism, and a 1945 movie depicted the mass execution of Jews in Babi Yar. Other significant pictures followed in the 1960s. But the more directly filmmakers engaged with the Holocaust, the more likely their work was to be banned by state censors. Some films were never made while others came out in such limited release that the Holocaust remained a phantom on Soviet screens.

Focusing on work by both celebrated and unknown Soviet directors and screenwriters, Olga Gershenson has written the first book about all Soviet narrative films dealing with the Holocaust from 1938 to 1991. In addition to studying the completed films, Gershenson analyzes the projects that were banned at various stages of production.

The book draws on archival research and in-depth interviews to tell the sometimes tragic and sometimes triumphant stories of filmmakers who found authentic ways to represent the Holocaust in the face of official silencing. By uncovering little known works, Gershenson makes a significant contribution to the international Holocaust filmography.

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Picture Personalities
The Emergence of the Star System in America
Richard deCordova
University of Illinois Press, 1990
Moving pictures existed for over a decade before anything resembling a star system appeared. Then, within the space of a very few years, American cinema went from being completely devoid of stars to being completely dependent on them. Picture Personalities is an invaluable account of this crucial development in cinema and modern culture.
Conventional wisdom attributes the rise of the star system to the charisma of individual performers or to the public's desire to idolize an appealing star. In Picture Personalities, Richard deCordova argues that the fledgling movie industry and the press conspired to develop the star system, along with a system of discourse to support it.
How actors became stars and how they began to assume public identities distinct from their fictional roles was closely tied to the journalistic discourse of the period, produced by the trade press, newspapers, general periodicals, fan magazines, publicity stills, posters, and other material. DeCordova shows how the studios worked to fabricate moral images of the stars' marriages and personal lives and how a series of star scandals in the 1920s challenged those images and brought about changes in the conventions of representing stars. A new foreword by Corey K. Creekmur enhances this first paperback edition.

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Playing the Percentages
How Film Distribution Made the Hollywood Studio System
Derek Long
University of Texas Press, 2024

A history of film distribution in the United States from the 1910s to the 1930s, concentrating on booking, circuiting, and packaging marketing practices.

Told not as a “golden age” narrative of films, stars, or individual studios but as an economic history of the industry’s film distribution practices, Playing the Percentages is the story of how Hollywood’s vertically integrated studio system came to be. Studying the history of distribution during the growth of Hollywood, Derek Long makes a case for the domination of the studio system as the result of struggles over distribution practices.

Through a combination of archival research, critical surveys of the film industry trade press, and economic analysis, Long uncovers a complex and ever-shifting system of wrangling between distributors and exhibitors. Challenging the overemphasis within scholarship on “block booking” as a monolithic distribution mode, and attending to distribution practices beyond simple circulation, Long highlights the crucial changes in film distribution brought about by live theater, the rise of features, and the transition to sound. Playing the Percentages is a comprehensive history of film distribution in the United States during the silent era that illustrates the importance of power struggles between distributors and exhibitors over booking, pricing, and playing time.


front cover of Producing
Lewis, Jon
Rutgers University Press, 2015
Of all the job titles listed in the opening and closing screen credits, producer is certainly the most amorphous. There are businessmen (and women)-producers, writer-director- and movie-star-producers; producers who work for the studio; executive producers whose reputation and industry clout alone gets a project financed (though their day-to-day participation in the project may be negligible). The job title, regardless of the actual work involved, warrants a great deal of prestige in the film business; it is the credited producers, after all, who collect the Oscar for Best Picture. But what producers do and what they don’t or won’t do varies from project to project.
Producing is the first book to provide a comprehensive overview of the roles that producers have played in Hollywood, from the dawn of the twentieth century to the present day. It introduces readers to the colorful figures who helped to define and reimagine the producer’s role, including inventors like Thomas Edison, moguls like Darryl F. Zanuck, entrepreneurs like Walt Disney, and mavericks like Roger Corman. Readers also get an inside look at the less glamorous jobs producers have often performed: shepherding projects through many years of development, securing financial backers, and supervising movie shoots.  
The latest book in the acclaimed Behind the Silver Screen series, Producing includes essays written by seven film scholars, each an expert in a different period of cinema history. Together, they give readers a full picture of how the art and business of producing films has changed over time—and how the producer’s myriad job duties continue to evolve in the digital era. 

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Producing Bollywood
Inside the Contemporary Hindi Film Industry
Tejaswini Ganti
Duke University Press, 2012
Producing Bollywood offers an unprecedented look inside the social and professional worlds of the Mumbai-based Hindi film industry and explains how it became "Bollywood," the global film phenomenon and potent symbol of India as a rising economic powerhouse. In this rich and entertaining ethnography Tejaswini Ganti examines the changes in Hindi film production from the 1990s until 2010, locating them in Hindi filmmakers' efforts to accrue symbolic capital, social respectability, and professional distinction, and to manage the commercial uncertainties of filmmaking. These efforts have been enabled by the neoliberal restructuring of the Indian state and economy since 1991. This restructuring has dramatically altered the country's media landscape, which quickly expanded to include satellite television and multiplex theaters. Ganti contends that the Hindi film industry's metamorphosis into Bollywood would not have been possible without the rise of neoliberal economic ideals in India. By describing dramatic transformations in the Hindi film industry's production culture, daily practices, and filmmaking ideologies during a decade of tremendous social and economic change in India, Ganti offers valuable new insights into the effects of neoliberalism on cultural production in a postcolonial setting.

front cover of Production Culture
Production Culture
Industrial Reflexivity and Critical Practice in Film and Television
John Thornton Caldwell
Duke University Press, 2008
In Production Culture, John Thornton Caldwell investigates the cultural practices and belief systems of Los Angeles–based film and video production workers: not only those in prestigious positions such as producers and directors but also many “below-the-line” laborers, including gaffers, editors, and camera operators. Caldwell analyzes the narratives and rituals through which workers make sense of their labor and critique the film and TV industry as well as the culture writ large. As a self-reflexive industry, Hollywood constantly exposes itself and its production processes to the public; workers’ ideas about the industry are embedded in their daily practices and the media they create. Caldwell suggests ways that scholars might learn from the industry’s habitual self-scrutiny.

Drawing on interviews, observations of sets and workplaces, and analyses of TV shows, industry documents, economic data, and promotional materials, Caldwell shows how film and video workers function in a transformed, post-network industry. He chronicles how workers have responded to changes including media convergence, labor outsourcing, increasingly unstable labor and business relations, new production technologies, corporate conglomeration, and the proliferation of user-generated content. He explores new struggles over “authorship” within collective creative endeavors, the way that branding and syndication have become central business strategies for networks, and the “viral” use of industrial self-reflexivity to motivate consumers through DVD bonus tracks, behind-the-scenes documentaries, and “making-ofs.” A significant, on-the-ground analysis of an industry in flux, Production Culture offers new ways of thinking about media production as a cultural activity.


front cover of Projecting Nation
Projecting Nation
South African Cinemas after 1994
Cara Moyer-Duncan
Michigan State University Press, 2020
In 1994, not long after South Africa made its historic transition to multiracial democracy, the nation’s first black-majority government determined that film had the potential to promote social cohesion, stimulate economic development, and create jobs. In 1999 the new National Film and Video Foundation was charged with fostering a vibrant, socially engaged, and self-sufficient film industry. What are the results of this effort to create a truly national cinematic enterprise? Projecting Nation: South African Cinemas after 1994 answers that question by examining the ways in which national and transnational forces have shaped the representation of race and nation in feature-length narrative fiction films. Offering a systematic analysis of cinematic texts in the context of the South African film industry, author Cara Moyer-Duncan analyzes both well-known works like District 9 (2009) and neglected or understudied films like My Shit Father and My Lotto Ticket (2008) to show how the ways filmmakers produce cinema and the ways diverse audiences experience it—whether they watch major releases in theaters in predominantly white suburban enclaves or straight-to-DVD productions in their own homes—are informed by South Africans’ multiple experiences of nation in a globalizing world.

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