Engineering Hollywood: Technology, Technicians, and the Science of Building the Studio System

ISBN : 9780190885595

Luci Marzola
280 ページ
156 x 235 mm

Engineering Hollywood tells the story of the formation of the Hollywood studio system not as the product of a genius producer, but as an industry that brought together creative practices and myriad cutting-edge technologies in ways that had never been seen before. Using extensive archival research, this book examines the role of technicians, engineers, and trade organizations in creating a stable technological infrastructure on which the studio system rested for decades. Here, the studio system is seen as a technology-dependent business with connections to the larger American industrial world. By focusing on the role played by technology, we see a new map of the studio system beyond the backlots of Los Angeles and the front offices in New York. In this study, Hollywood includes the labs of industrial manufacturers, the sales routes of independent firms, the garages of tinkerers, and the clubhouses of technicians' societies. Rather than focusing on the technical improvements in any particular motion picture tool, this book centers on the larger systems and infrastructures for dealing with technology in this creative industry. Engineering Hollywood argues that the American industry was stabilized and able to dominate the motion picture field for decades through collaboration over technologies of everyday use. Hollywood's relationship to its essential technology was fundamentally one of interdependence and cooperation-with manufacturers, trade organizations, and the competing studios. As such, Hollywood could be defined as an industry by participation in a closed system of cooperation that allowed a select group of producers and manufacturers to dominate the motion picture business for decades.


List of Illustrations
PART I: Engineering an Industry
1: A Community of Engineers: Cooperation and Competition Among East Coast Motion Picture Technology Manufacturers
2: Maintained Solely for Your Benefit: Technological Service Firms and the Hollywood Industrial Cluster
3: Between the Lines: Engineers in the Movie Studio
PART II: The Science of the Studio System
4: Inventing the Mazda Tests: Trade Collaboration and the First Scientific Endeavor in Hollywood
5: The Fundamentals: Technical Education in the Chaos of Sound
6: The Academy Technical Bureau, Cooperative Research, and the Building of the Studio System
Conclusion: Epilogue
Appendix A: Acronyms
Appendix B: Biographical Index


Luci Marzola is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies at University of California Irvine. She was the recipient of a 2010-2020 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship. Her work on early Hollywood technology and infrastructure has been published in Film History, The Velvet Light Trap, and American Cinematographer and is forthcoming in the Historical Journal of Film, Radio, and Television and the Oxford Handbook to Silent Cinema.