Independent Filmmaking in the Studio Era: Tendencies within the Studio System

Yannis Tzioumakis

in American Independent Cinema

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print July 2006 | ISBN: 9780748618668
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670802 | DOI:
Independent Filmmaking in the Studio Era: Tendencies within the Studio System

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The chapter examines the forms independent film production took within the studio system until the late 1940s. It focuses on 'top-rank independent production' that involved primarily prestige level films made initially by a small number of creative producers (Samuel Goldwyn, David O. Selznick, Walter Wanger, etc.) who distributed their films through United Artists, and after 1940 by an increasing number of producers and with the support of the studios. Top-rank production prevented Hollywood studios from standardising production, as it often tested the tolerance of the Production Code, pushed the limits of technological innovation, ushered Hollywood to a new era of mature representations on screen, advocated the use of scientific audience research at a time when the studios took their audience for granted, and repeatedly outperformed studio production. In this respect, while the top-rank independents were very much part of the Hollywood industry as the majority of them needed the studio infrastructure to produce and release their films, they also kept the studios in check, providing competition and leadership in terms of developments in the industry. Case study: Cagney Productions at United Artists.

Keywords: Top-rank independents; United Artists; Semi-independence; Unit production; Independent producer; standardisation

Chapter.  16729 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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