Cecil Hepworth and the Rise of the British Film Industry 1899-1911
By Simon Brown
This book offers an industrial, economic and aesthetic history of the early years of the British film industry from 1899–1911, through a case study of one of the most celebrated pioneer film makers, Cecil Hepworth.
Presenting a picture of daily life in his film studio, an analysis of Hepworth’s films is offered including the development of their content, production methods and marketing in this formative period.
The early twentieth century saw British film production develop from a cottage industry of artisans to a multi-modal complex economic system with a global reach. Changes in the nature of exhibition and distribution caused a major crisis in the years 1908–1911, whereby Britain lost its status as a world leader in film making. Existing histories of this period lay this crisis at the feet of pioneers like Hepworth, whose perceived inability to improve the quality of film production led to stagnation.
Brown attempts to challenge this assumption by analysing Hepworth’s development of production methods as well as his strategies towards sales in the market to demonstrate the impact on the modernisation of the film industry.
List of Illustrations and Tables
Film Production and the Hepworth Manufacturing Company Ltd (HMC)
Hepworth, Film Sales and the Rise of the Renter
The HMC, the Rental Sector and Market Strategies
HMC and Patterns of Exhibition
Conclusion: The Producers’ Response to the Crisis
Appendix One: Filmography of Hepworth and Co and the HMC 1899–1911
Appendix Two: HMC Titles Listed in ‘Around the Shows’ Released 1 October 1908–31 August 1909
Appendix Three: List of London Based Rental Firms (1905–1911) and Foreign Film Sales Representatives (1907–1911)
‘Rich with historical context, Brown’s book builds on the foundations laid down by the likes of John Barnes and Rachel Low, and more recent elucidations by scholars such as Luke McKernan (whose recent book, also published in the consistently excellent Exeter Studies in Film History series, did for Charles Urban and co. what Browns does here for Hepworth).
‘From the very first page it offers a vital addendum to our knowledge of the early years of British cinema.
‘Brown not only enhances our understanding of this particular film-maker, but of British film history more generally.’Stephen Morgan,
Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television March 2017
‘… painstaking scholarship… a book that significantly revises our understanding of one national production context’
Joe Kember, viewfinder, No 104 September 2016
‘Lucid and well-informed, the argument posed is a stimulating one. I, for one, look forward to reading it.’ (Professor Stephen Neale, University of Exeter)
‘Well-written and original, it opens up the subject in a thoroughly new way. This will be an important book.’ (Professor Richard Maltby, Flinders University)
Simon Brown is Associate Professor in Film and Television at Kingston University. His main areas of research are early cinema, British cinema, colour cinematography and contemporary American television. In 2004, in addition to teaching at Kingston, he was Senior Research Fellow for The London Project, a year-long AHRB funded project researching the history of the British Film Industry in London from its inception to 1914.
Exeter Studies in Film History
- 'Film Europe' And 'Film America' - Cinema, Commerce and Cultural Exchange 1920-1939
- Alternative Empires - European Modernist Cinemas and Cultures of Imperialism
- Alternative Film Culture in Interwar Britain
- The Appreciation of Film - The Postwar Film Society Movement and Film Culture in Britain
- The Big Show - British Cinema Culture in the Great War (1914-1918)
- British Cinema and Middlebrow Culture in the Interwar Years
- Cecil Hepworth and the Rise of the British Film Industry 1899-1911
- Celluloid War Memorials - The British Instructional Films Company and the Memory of the Great War
- Charles Urban - Pioneering the Non-Fiction Film in Britain and America, 1897 - 1925
- A Chorus Of Raspberries - British Film Comedy 1929-1939
- Decoding the Movies - Hollywood in the 1930s
- Going to the Movies - Hollywood and the Social Experience of Cinema
- The Great Art Of Light And Shadow - Archaeology of the Cinema
- Hollywood, Westerns And The 1930S - The Lost Trail
- Legitimate Cinema - Theatre Stars in Silent British Films, 1908-1918
- The Lost Jungle - Cliffhanger Action and Hollywood Serials of the 1930s and 1940s
- Marketing Modernity - Victorian Popular Shows and Early Cinema
- Multimedia Histories - From Magic Lanterns to Internet
- Parallel Tracks - The Railroad and Silent Cinema
- A Paul Rotha Reader
- Popular Filmgoing in 1930s Britain - A Choice of Pleasures
- Reading the Cinematograph - The Cinema in British Short Fiction, 1896-1912
- Silent Features - The Development of Silent Feature Films 1914 - 1934
- The World According To Hollywood,1918-1939
- Young And Innocent? - The Cinema in Britain, 1896-1930