Skip to main content
Back to Results
Cover image of Women Filmmakers in Early Hollywood

Women Filmmakers in Early Hollywood

Karen Ward Mahar

Publication Date
Binding Type

Women Filmmakers in Early Hollywood explores when, how, and why women were accepted as filmmakers in the 1910s and why, by the 1920s, those opportunities had disappeared. In looking at the early film industry as an industry—a place of work—Mahar not only unravels the mystery of the disappearing female filmmaker but untangles the complicated relationship among gender, work culture, and business within modern industrial organizations.

In the early 1910s, the film industry followed a theatrical model, fostering an egalitarian work culture in which everyone—male and female—helped behind the scenes...

Women Filmmakers in Early Hollywood explores when, how, and why women were accepted as filmmakers in the 1910s and why, by the 1920s, those opportunities had disappeared. In looking at the early film industry as an industry—a place of work—Mahar not only unravels the mystery of the disappearing female filmmaker but untangles the complicated relationship among gender, work culture, and business within modern industrial organizations.

In the early 1910s, the film industry followed a theatrical model, fostering an egalitarian work culture in which everyone—male and female—helped behind the scenes in a variety of jobs. In this culture women thrived in powerful, creative roles, especially as writers, directors, and producers. By the end of that decade, however, mushrooming star salaries and skyrocketing movie budgets prompted the creation of the studio system. As the movie industry remade itself in the image of a modern American business, the masculinization of filmmaking took root.

Mahar's study integrates feminist methodologies of examining the gendering of work with thorough historical scholarship of American industry and business culture. Tracing the transformation of the film industry into a legitimate "big business" of the 1920s, and explaining the fate of the female filmmaker during the silent era, Mahar demonstrates how industrial growth and change can unexpectedly open—and close—opportunities for women.

Reviews

Reviews

Accessible and informative, this volume is for all who are seriously interested in the study of women in film.

With meticulous scholarship and fluid writing, Mahar tells the story of this golden era of female filmmaking... Women Filmmakers in Early Hollywood is not to be missed.

Mahar views the business of making movies from the inside-out, focusing on questions about changing industrial models and work conventions. At her best, she shows how the industry's shifting business history impacted women's opportunities, recasting current understanding about the American film industry's development.

A scrupulously researched and argued analysis of how and why women made great professional and artistic gains in the U.S. film industry from 1906 to the mid-1920s and why they lost most of that ground until the late twentieth century.

Women Filmmakers in Early Hollywood offers convincing evidence of how economic forces shaped women’s access to film production and presents a complex and engaging story of the women who took advantage of those opportunities.

See All Reviews
About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
332
ISBN
9780801890840
Illustration Description
27 halftones
Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction: Making Movies and Incorporating Gender
Prologue: "The Greatest Electrical Novelty in the World": Gender and Filmmaking before the Turn of the Century
Part One: Expansion, Stardom &

Preface
Introduction: Making Movies and Incorporating Gender
Prologue: "The Greatest Electrical Novelty in the World": Gender and Filmmaking before the Turn of the Century
Part One: Expansion, Stardom & Uplift: Women Enter the American Movie Industry, 1908–1916
1. A Quiet Invasion: Nickelodeons, Narratives, and the First Women in Film
2. "To Get Some of the 'Good Gravy' " for Themselves Stardom, Features, and the First Star-Producers
3. "So Much More Natural to a Woman": Gender, Uplift, and the Woman Filmmaker
Interlude: Women in Serials & Short Comedies, 1912–1922
4. The "Girls Who Play": The Short Film and the New Woman
Part Two: "A Business Pure & Simple": The End of Uplift and the Masculinization of Hollywood, 1916–1928
5. "The Real Punches": Lois Weber, Cecil B. DeMille, and the End of the Uplift Movement
6. A "'Her-Own-Company' Epidemic": Stars as Independent Producers
7. "Doing a 'Man's Work'": The Rise of the Studio System and the Remasculinization of Filmmaking
Epilogue
Getting Away with It
Notes
Essay on Sources
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Karen Ward Mahar

Karen Ward Mahar is an associate professor of history at Siena College, New York.