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Title: "It's a Creative Business": The Ideas, Practices, and Interaction that made the Hollywood Studio System
Authors: Regev, Ronny
Advisors: Rodgers, Daniel T.
Contributors: History Department
Keywords: Creative Industries
Labor Relations
Motion Pictures
Studio System
Subjects: History
American history
American studies
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: During the first half of the twentieth century, as cinema transformed from a novice form of technology to a full-fledged industry, the major production companies in the United States were forced to reconcile a rationalized profit seeking operation with a dependence on artistic imagination. In that sense, they were far from a conventional assembly line and required a unique mode of production. This dissertation examines the distinctive apparatus that developed in the motion picture business and how it shaped the film industry and its labor force during the golden age of the Hollywood studio system, c. 1920-1950. It is a study of the American motion picture industry as a modern system of labor, which reveals the day-to-day reality behind the screen and the effect work relations and politics had on cinematic production and content. I argue that beyond the cinematic text, the Hollywood workforce and its production practices are equally important to our understanding of America's foremost cultural industry. The project has two main concerns. First, it charts the splitting of expertise that took place as filmmaking went from being an unstructured practice produced in an informal work environment to a well thought-out operation with function-specific divisions and tasks. Second, it fleshes out the specialized roles created by the system by studying the experience of the practitioners who carried primary responsibility for the creative content of the movies. Hence, this dissertation is also a social history of Hollywood's creative class. Drawing from personal papers, correspondence, oral histories, trade papers, and studio files it examines the work routines of producers, writers, directors, and actors, how the people occupying these positions perceived their roles, what demands and constraints were placed on them by the system, and how they learned to negotiate their own artistic and material interests with those of the studios and with other practitioners. While paying attention to the complexity of the workforce and the different groups operating within it, the dissertation also emphasizes the commonalities and shared perceptions that fostered a sense of unity and conformity in Hollywood and helped preserve organizational harmony and stability.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:History

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