Thomas Ince Creating Organized Production Methods in his Studio
Thomas Harper Ince came to films in 1910, age 30, with a background as a jack-of-all-trades in the stage. Beginning as a film director, Ince then created the function of a producer, something new to movies. He realized that the haphazard way films were made, planned simply in the director's mind, needed to be far more organized—and economical. Ince introduced the concept of a carefully planned script and shooting schedule, so every day the needed cast, extras, sets, costumes, and locations were all prepared.
You will see all these phases of production in this promotional film. It goes beyond earlier such studio tours with their star snapshots and behind the scenes glimpses, to convey a full day's studio work. Even as the film supposedly captures stars informally, it oscillates to the technical departments and the artists, carpenters, electricians, and laboratory, to indicate just how much the studio is like an actual factory.
Getting ready for work are Lloyd Hughes, Enid Bennet, Louise Glaum, J. Parker Read, and Douglas MacLean, who is stopped by a policeman who wants to join him in the movies. The secret of photographing a chase is shown. Hobart Bosworth relaxes by painting. Upon arriving at work, MacLean receives a batch of fan mail--even a package from Japan, for Ince films have global exhibition. Even if not all the stars shown were under contract to Ince, their presence along with the professional filmmakers add to the importance of the facility itself. The only real luxury is at the end of eight hours, when the workers relax in the studio pool.
Ince had personally designed and privately owned this studio facility, for making both his own films and those of other independent producers (including Read and Bosworth). With these other filmmakers, in 1919 Ince set up a firm, Associated Producers, and Ince hired Hunt Stromberg as head of publicity and advertising. Special arrangements were made with one newspaper in each city to promote this studio tour film and distribute it to theaters where it was shown as "an added attraction." (The date of release given on IMDb is incorrect; the film was in release by 1920 as proved by reviews.)
Ince himself is shown undertaking vigorous exercises and making time for his wife and three sons. This was not vanity; there was a second and very important audience, bankers. No longer releasing through Paramount, who had paid a weekly sum paid to finance productions for their release, Ince had become a completely independent producer. Ince needed to constantly borrow for his next production, using as collateral films already in release. Just as important was his own reputation for commercial success, and the studio he owned. The presence of big name players, and the demonstration of coordinated, professional production methods, offered reassurance to backers of Ince as a financial investment.
It was just that health of Ince's that began to fail him, and he died in 1924 from ulcers and angina (as opposed to the rumors, laid to rest in my book on Ince). The good news, however, is that his studio shown here is still in place and remains a center of production.
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