Welcome to The American Film Industry

As the summer winds down, it is time to release the syllabus for the American Film Industry, a course at CUNY Queens College. This course is an economic history of American film beginning with the first time someone thought it would be a good idea to charge money for the privilege of watching moving pictures. We cover a lot of changes along the way.

Here are some of the highlights of facts you might not know but will in this class:

  • Movies were run by cartel, between 1908 and 1915, and its boss was Thomas Edison
    the movie capital wasn’t always in Hollywood. It was once in Fort Lee, New Jersey
  • Movie studios were really movie factories that borrowed manufacturing principles from the automobile industry.
  • Two minor studios in Hollywood, that borrowed a lot of money in the 1920s, spearheaded the transition from silent to sound film. One survived the Depression. The other did not.
  • The Production Code and the many rules of what American movies can and can’t do, which were written by a Catholic priest
  • Television upending movies as our dominant entertainment form but couldn’t have existed without the film industry.
  • The ratings system, the letters that keep kids from watching R-rated movies, actually made it possible for Hollywood to make more racy movies not less!
  • Before the birth of the “block buster,” movies were almost never advertised on TV and the summer was the “off-season” for movies.
  • Movies no longer exists as an independent entertainment company. Warner Brothers was once owned by a company that parked cars.
  • Movie studios fought VHS and home video, despite the fact that half of a movie’s revenue comes from home video.
  • The Internet has forever changed the movies. We don’t yet know exactly how… Stay tuned!

Please download the syllabus for American Film Industry Fa2011 to see if you find it interesting and worth taking. Or you can follow some of the lessons on the course website.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Announcements. Bookmark the permalink.