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Some Early Books About the Movie Industry

Posted: January 18th, 2019, 9:15 am
by ColleenMc
By the 1910s, the motion picture industry was coming into its own as a real industry and not a passing fad, and people were starting to systematize the process of writing, producing, and filming movies. More people were interested in learning about and breaking into the industry as well. In a way, looking at works about the movies from this time kind of reminds me of where the video gaming industry is currently --- it's been around for a few decades, doing its thing, but thinking about it systematically in terms of teaching people how to write and design and create them is relatively recent.

So here are three books about motion pictures, published in the 1910s, that might be interesting projects to record for Librivox:

Moving Pictures: How They Are Made And Worked by Frederick A. Talbot (couldn't find death date for him, he's currently in Librivox catalog for a short work item, with DOB only, of 1880)

1914 revision of 1912 work. This is a pretty famous book, still cited in modern film writing.

The Photoplay by James A. Taylor (?? -??) Couldn't find anything on the author.

Very short work, more of a pamphlet, published 1914 and copyright info only includes the author's name, so maybe self-published. I'm wondering if it might be one of those books advertised in the backs of magazines -- "Learn to write for the movies! Send your nickel to ..." based on the look of it. It's short but the text is tiny and dense. Still if it's an interesting topic to you, would make a good short solo.

The Photodrama by Henry Albert Phillips (1880-1951)

Phillips is the best known author of the bunch, prolific book and magazine writer of the early decades of 20th century. The Photodrama was one of his earlier books, and is mainly meant for aspiring scriptwriters (or as they called them at the time, scenario writers or scenarists). It's part of an "Author's Handbook Series" and the title page reads more like an early 19th century book than early 20th century, but gives a good idea of what it's about:

THE PHOTODRAMA - The Philosophy Of Its Principles, the Nature of Its Plot, Its Dramatic Construction and Technique Illumined by Copious Examples Together With a Complete Photoplay and a Glossary, Making the Work a Practical Treatise.


Re: Some Early Books About the Movie Industry

Posted: January 18th, 2019, 3:22 pm
by ChuckW
Oooo, great finds, Colleen! I started a similar thread ages ago about old celebrity memoirs and autobiographies, and while some were later taken up, a few have still slipped through the cracks.

So here are some of those old recommendations (with a few extra I've stumbled upon in the past):

Screen Acting by Mae Marsh

Hollywood Undressed: Observations of Sylvia As Noted by Her Secretary by Sylvia of Hollywood

The Truth About the Movies, by the Stars by Laurence Hughes

Daydreams by Rudolph Valentino
(a book of poems... written by Valentino?!?)

How You Can Keep Fit By Rudolph Valentino
(an exercise manual... written by Valentino?!?)

Wallace Reid: His Life Story as Related by His Mother by Bertha Westbrook Reid


And here are some that aren't memoirs, but more critical/descriptive in focus:

Behind the Screen by Samuel Goldwyn

The Romance of Motion Picture Production by Lee Royal

The Blue Book of the Screen

Pictorial Beauty on the Screen by Victor Freebug