Wednesday, 26 October 2011 11:26

Indian Cinema

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The History Of Indian Cinema

Pre-cinema age

Telling stories from the epics using hand­drawn tableaux images in scroll paintings, with accompanying live sounds have been an age old Indian tradition. These tales, mostly the familiar stories of gods and goddesses, are revealed slowly through choreographic movements of painted glass slides in a lantern, which create illusions of movements. And so when the Lumire brothers' representatives held the first public showing at Mumbai's (Bombay) Watson's Hotel on July 7, 1896, the new phenomenon did not create much of a stir here and no one in the audience ran out at the image of the train speeding towards them, as It did elsewhere. The Indian viewer took the new experience as something already familiar to him.

Harischandra Sakharam Bhatwadekar, who happened to be present for the Lumiere presentation, was keen on getting hold of the Lumiere Cinematograph and trying it out himself rather than show the Lumiere films to a wider audience. The public reception accorded to Wrangler Paranjpye at Chowapatty on his return from England with the coveted distinction he got at Cambridge was covered by  Bhatwadekar in December 1901- the first Indian topical or actuality film was born. In Calcutta, Hiralal Sen photographed scenes from some of the plays at the Classic Theatre

Such films were shown as added attractions after the stage performances or taken to distant venue where the stage performers could not reach. The possibility of reaching a large audience through recorded images which could be projected several times through mechanical gadgets caught the fancy of people in the performing arts and the stage and entertainment business. The first decade of the 20th century saw live and recorded performances being clubbed together in the same programme The strong influence of its traditional arts, music, dance and popular theatre on the cinema movement in India in its early days, is probably responsible for its characteristic enthusiasm for inserting song and dance sequences in Indian cinema, even till today.

Dada Saheb Phalke

Dhundiraj Govind PhaIke (1870 - 1944) affectionately called Dada Saheb Phalke is considered as the. 'Father of Indian Cinema'. Central in Phalke's career as a filmmaker was his fervent belief in the nationalistic philosophy of swadeshi, which advocated that Indians should take charge of their own economy in the perspective of future Independence,

Phalke, with his imported camera, exposed single frames of a seed sprouting to a growing plant, shot once a day, over a month-thus inadvertently introducing the concept of 'time­lapse photography', which resulted in the first indigenous 'instructional film'- The Birth of a Pea Plant (1912) - a capsule history of the growth of a pea into a pea-laden plant. This film came very handy in getting financial backing for his first film venture.

Inspired from an imported film - Life of Christ - Phalke started mentally visualising the images of Indian gods and goddesses. What really obsessed him was the desire to see Indian images on the screen in a purely Swadeshi venture, He fixed up a studio in Dadar Main Road, wrote the scenario, erected the set and started shooting for his first venture Raja Harishchandra in 1912. The first full-length story film of Phalke was completed in 1912 and released at the Coronation cinema on April 21, 1913, for special invitees and members of the Press. The film was widely acclaimed by one and all and proved to be a great success

Raja Harishchandra

The opening tableaux presents a scene of royal family harmony- with a space "outside" the. Frame from where the people emerge, and to which space the king when banished seeks shelter. The film's treatment is episodic, following the style of the Indian flok theatre and the primitive novel. Most of the camera set-ups are static, with plenty of movements within the frame. The bathtub' sequence whe're Harishchandra comes to call his wife Taramati, who is in the tub, with her fully drenched attendants is indeed the first bath-tub scene 'in Indian cinema. All the females in their wet sarees and blouses clinging to their bodies are in fact all males in female grab.

Phalke hailed from an orthodox Hindu household - a family of priests with strong religious roots. So, when technology made it possible to tell stories through moving images, it was but natural that the Indian film pioneer turned to his own ancient epics and puranas for source material. The phenomenal success of Raja Harishchandra was kept up by Phalke with a series of mythological films that followed - Mohini Bhasmasur (1914), significant for introducing the first woman to act before the cameras ­Kamalabai Gokhale. The significant titles that followed include - Satyawan Savitri (1914), Satyavadi Raja Harischandra (1917), Lanka Dahan (1917), Shri Krishna Janma (1918) and Kalia Mardan (1919).

Regional Cinema

The first film in Southern India was made in 1916 by R Nataraja Mudaliar- Keechaka Vadham. As the title indicates the subject is again a mythological from the Mahabharata. Another film made in Madras - Valli Thiru-Manam (1921) by Whittaker drew critical acclaim and box office success. Hollywood returned Ananthanarayanan Narayanan founded General Pictures Corporation in 1929 and established filmmaking as an industry in South India and became the single largest producer of silent films. Kolhapur in Western Maharashtra was another centre of active film production in the twenties. In 1919 Baburao K MistrY - popularly known as Baburao Painter formed the Maharashtra Film Co. with the blessings of the Maharaja of Kolhapur and released the first significant historical- Sairandhari (1920) with Balasheb Pawar, Kamala Devi and Zunzarrao Pawar in stellar roles. Because of his special interest in sets, costumes, design and painting, he .chose episodes

from Maratha history for interpreting in the new medium and specialised in the historical genre. The exploits bf Shivaji and his contemporaries and their patriotic encounters with their opponents .formed the recurring t.hemes of his 'historicals' which invariably had a contemporary relevance to the people of a nation, who were fighting for liberation from a colonial oppressor. The attack against the false values associated with the Western way of life and their blind imitation by some Indians was humorously brought out by Dhiren Ganguly in pis brilliant satirical comedy - England Returned (1921) ­presumably the first 'social satire' on Indians obsessed with Western values. And with that another genre of Indian cinema known as 'the contemporary social' slowly emerged. Baburao Painter followed it up with another significant film in 1925 - Savkari Pash (The Indian Shylock) - an attempt at realistic treatment of the Indian peasant exploited by the greedy moneylender.

In Bengal, a region rich in culture and intellectual activity, the first Bengali feature film in 1917, was remake of Phalke's Raja Harishchandra. Titled Satyawadi Raja Harishchandra, it was directed by Rustomjee Dotiwala. Less prolific than Bombay based film industry, around 122 feature films were made in Calcutta in the Silent Era. The first feature film in Tamil, also the first in entire South India, Keechakavatham was made during 1916-17, directed by Nataraja Mudaliar. Marthandavarma (1931) produced by R Sunder Raj, under .Shri.Rajeswari Film, Nagercoil, directed by P V Rao, got into a legal angle and was withdrawn after its premiere.

Based on a celebrated novel by C V Raman Pillai, the film recounts the adventures of the crown prince and how he eliminates the arch-villains to become the unquestioned ruler of the Travancore State. The film has title cards in English and Malayalam, some of which are taken from the original text. A few of the title cards and action make obvious reference to the Swadeshi Movement of the time. Had it not been for the legal embargo; the film would have had a great impact on the regional cinema of the South.

Indian Cinema Starts Talking

Ardeshir Irani released Alam Ara which was the first Indian talking film, on 14 March 1931.H.M. Reddy, produced and directed Bhakta Prahlada (Telugu), released on Sept 15, 1931 and Kalidas (Tamil)   released on Oct 31, 1931. Kalidas was produced by Ardeshir Irani and directed by H.M. Reddy. These two films are south India's first talkie films to have a theatrical release. Following the inception of 'talkies' in India some film stars were highly sought after and earned comfortable incomes through acting. As sound technology advanced the 1930s saw the rise of music in Indian cinema with musicals such as Indra Sabha and Devi Devyani marking the beginning of song-and-dance in India's films. Studios emerged across major cities such as Chennai, Kolkata, and Mumbai as film making became an established craft by 1935, exemplified by the success of Devdas, which had managed to enthrall audiences nationwide.  Bombay Talkies came up in 1934 and Prabhat Studios in Pune had begun production of films meant for the Marathi language audience.  Filmmaker R. S. D. Choudhury produced Wrath (1930), banned by the British Raj in India as it depicted actors as Indian leaders, an expression censored during the days of the Indian independence movement.

The Indian Masala film—a slang used for commercial films with song, dance, romance etc.—came up following the second world war. South Indian cinema gained prominence throughout India with the release of S.S. Vasan's Chandralekha. During the 1940s cinema in South India accounted for nearly half of India's cinema halls and cinema came to be viewed as an instrument of cultural revival.  The partition of India following its independence divided the nation's assets and a number of studios went to the newly formed Pakistan. The strife of partition would become an enduring subject for film making during the decades that followed.

After Indian independence the cinema of India was inquired by the S.K. Patil Commission. S.K. Patil, head of the commission, viewed cinema in India as a 'combination of art, industry, and showmanship' while noting its commercial value. Patil further recommended setting up of a Film Finance Corporation under the Ministry of Finance. This advice was later taken up in 1960 and the institution came into being to provide financial support to talented filmmakers throughout India. The Indian government had established a Films Division by 1949 which eventually became one of the largest documentary film producers in the world with an annual production of over 200 short documentaries, each released in 18 languages with 9000 prints for permanent film theaters across the country.

Bengali cinema

The Bengali language cinematic tradition of Tollygunge located in West Bengal has had reputable filmmakers such as Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak and Mrinal Sen among its most acclaimed. Recent Bengali films that have captured national attention include Rituparno Ghosh's Choker Bali, starring Aishwarya Rai. Bengali filmmaking also includes Bangla science fiction films and films that focus on social issues. In 1993, the Bengali industry's net output was 57 films.

The history of cinema in Bengal dates back to the 1890s, when the first "bioscopes" were shown in theatres in Kolkata. Within a decade, the first seeds of the industry was sown by Hiralal Sen, considered a stalwart of Victorian era cinema when he set up the Royal Bioscope Company, producing scenes from the stage productions of a number of popular shows at the Star Theatre, Calcutta, Minerva Theatre, Classic Theatre. Following a long gap after Sen's works, Dhirendra Nath Ganguly (Known as D.G) established Indo British Film Co, the first Bengali owned Production Company, in 1918. However, the first Bengali Feature film, Billwamangal, was produced in 1919, under the banner of Madan Theatre. Bilat Ferat was the IBFC's first production in 1921. The Madan Theatres production of Jamai Shashthi was the first Bengali talkie.

In 1932, the name "Tollywood" was coined for the Bengali film industry due to Tollygunge rhyming with "Hollywood" and because it was the center of the Indian film industry at the time. It later inspired the name "Bollywood", as Mumbai (then called Bombay) later overtook Tollygunge as the center of the Indian film industry, and many other Hollywood-inspired names. The 'Parallel Cinema' movement began in the Bengali film industry in the 1950s. A long history has been traversed since then, with stalwarts such as Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Ritwik Ghatak and others having earned international acclaim and securing their place in the history of film.

Malayalam cinema

The Malayalam film industry, based in the southern state of Kerala, is known for films that bridge the gap between parallel cinema and mainstream cinema by portraying thought-provoking social issues. Filmmakers include Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shaji N. Karun, G. Aravindan, K. G. George, Padmarajan, Sathyan Anthikad, T. V. Chandran and Bharathan.

Vigathakumaran, a silent movie released in 1928 produced and directed by J. C. Daniel, marked the beginning of Malayalam cinema. Balan, released in 1938, was the first Malayalam "talkie". Malayalam films were mainly produced by Tamil producers till 1947, when the first major film studio, Udaya Studio, was established in Kerala. In 1954, the film Neelakkuyil captured national interest by winning the President's silver medal. Scripted by the well-known Malayalam novelist, Uroob, and directed by P. Bhaskaran and Ramu Kariat, it is often considered as the first authentic Malayali film. Newspaper Boy, made by a group of students in was the first neo-realistic film in India. Chemmeen directed by Ramu Kariat and based on a story by Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai, went on to become immensely popular, and became the first South Indian film to win the National Film Award for Best Film. This early period of Malayalam cinema was dominated by actors Prem Nazir, Sathyan, Madhu, Sheela, Sharada and Jayabharathi. Prem Nazir is regarded as one of the most successful film actors in India. He holds four major acting records; including for playing the lead role in over 700 films and for acting opposite eighty heroines.

The 1970s saw the emergence of New Wave Cinema. Swayamvaram (1972), the directorial debut of Adoor Gopalakrishnan pioneered the new wave cinema movement in Kerala. Other movies of the period include Nirmalyam by M. T. Vasudevan Nair (1973), Uttarayanam by G. Aravindan (1974), Swapnadanam (1976) by K. G. George (1976), Cheriyachante Kroorakrithyangal and Amma Ariyan (1986) by John Abraham etc. In the late 1970s, commercial cinema began gaining popularity due to the action films of Jayan, a stunt actor who became one of the first commercial stars of Malayalam cinema. Known for performing stunts, his success was short-lived, ending with his untimely death while performing a dangerous helicopter stunt in Kolilakkam (1980).

The period from late 1980s to early 1990s is popularly regarded as the 'Golden Age of Malayalam Cinema' with the emergence of actors such as Mohanlal, Mammootty, and filmmakers such as I.V. Sasi, Hariharan, Joshiy, Sibi Malayil, Bharathan, Padmarajan, K. G. George, Sathyan Anthikad, Priyadarshan, A. K. Lohithadas, Siddique-Lal and Sreenivasan. This period of popular cinema is characterized by the adaptation of everyday life themes and exploration of social and individual relationships. These movies interlaced themes of individual struggle with creative humour as in Nadodikkattu (1988). Piravi (1989) by Shaji N. Karun was the first Malayalam film to win the Caméra d'Or-Mention at the Cannes Film Festival. This period also marked the beginning of movies rich in well-crafted humour like Ramji Rao Speaking (1989). It was in Malayalam that the first 3D movie in India, My Dear Kuttichathan, was made by Navodaya Appachan, a notable film producer of Kerala.  Among all the playback singers in India, Malayalam singers K. J. Yesudas and K. S. Chithra hold the highest record for winning the National Award for best singers in the male and female category respectively. While Yesudas has won 7 awards so far, Chithra has won 6 awards till date.

During late 1990s and 2000s, Malayalam cinema witnessed a shift towards formulaic movies and slapstick comedies. The Malayalam film industry in recent times has also been affected by the rise of satellite television and widespread film piracy.




Last modified on Saturday, 26 November 2011 08:02
Wednesday, 26 October 2011 11:25

World Cinema

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History of film

A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects. The process of filmmaking has developed into an art form and industry.

Films are cultural artifacts created by specific cultures, which reflect those cultures, and, in turn, affect them. Film is considered to be an important art form, a source of popular entertainment and a powerful method for educating – or indoctrinating – citizens. The visual elements of cinema give motion pictures a universal power of communication. Some films have become popular worldwide attractions by using dubbing or subtitles that translate the dialogue into the language of the viewer.

Films are made up of a series of individual images called frames. When these images are shown rapidly in succession, a viewer has the illusion that motion is occurring. The viewer cannot see the flickering between frames due to an effect known as persistence of vision, whereby the eye retains a visual image for a fraction of a second after the source has been removed. Viewers perceive motion due to a psychological effect called beta movement.

The origin of the name "film" comes from the fact that photographic film (also called film stock) has historically been the primary medium for recording and displaying motion pictures. Many other terms exist for an individual motion picture, including picture, picture show, moving picture, photo-play and flick. A common name for film in the United States is movie, while in Europe the term film is preferred. Additional terms for the field in general include the big screen, the silver screen, the cinema and the movies.

The history of film is the historical development of the medium known variously as cinema, motion pictures, film, or the movies.

The history of film

The history of film spans over 100 years, from the latter part of the 19th century to the present day. Motion pictures developed gradually from a carnival novelty to one of the most important tools of communication and entertainment, and mass media in the 20th century and into the 21st century. Motion picture films have substantially affected the arts, technology, and politics.

Moving images were produced on revolving drums and disks in the 1830s with independent invention by Simon von Stampfer (Stroboscope) in Austria, Joseph Plateau (Phenakistoscope) in Belgium and William Horner (zoetrope) in Britain.

On June 19, 1878, under the sponsorship of Leland Stanford, Eadweard Muybridge successfully photographed a horse named "Sallie Gardner" in fast motion using a series of 24 stereoscopic cameras. The experiment took place on June 11 at the Palo Alto farm in California with the press present. The exercise was meant to determine whether a running horse ever had all four legs lifted off the ground at once. The cameras were arranged along a track parallel to the horses, and each camera shutter was controlled by a trip wire which was triggered by the horse's hooves. They were 21 inches apart to cover the 20 feet taken by the horse stride, taking pictures at one thousandth of a second. Étienne-Jules Marey invented a chronophotographic gun in 1882, which was capable of taking 12 consecutive frames a second, recording all the frames on the same picture. He used the chronophotographic gun for studying animals and human locomotion.

The second experimental film, Roundhay Garden Scene, filmed by Louis Le Prince on October 14, 1888 in Roundhay, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, UK is now known as the earliest surviving motion picture.

On June 21, 1889, William Friese-Greene was issued patent no. 10131 for his 'chronophotographic' camera. It was apparently capable of taking up to ten photographs per second using perforated celluloid film. A report on the camera was published in the British Photographic News on February 28, 1890. On 18 March, Friese-Greene sent a clipping of the story to Thomas Edison, whose laboratory had been developing a motion picture system known as the Kinetoscope. The report was reprinted in Scientific American on April 19. Friese-Greene gave a public demonstration in 1890 but the low frame rate combined with the device's apparent unreliability failed to make an impression.

As a result of the work of Etienne-Jules Marey and Eadweard Muybridge, many researchers in the late 19th century realized that films as they are known today were a practical possibility, but the first to design a fully successful apparatus was W. K. L. Dickson, working under the direction of Thomas Alva Edison. His fully developed camera, called the Kinetograph, was patented in 1891 and took a series of instantaneous photographs on standard Eastman Kodak photographic emulsion coated on to a transparent celluloid strip 35 mm wide. The results of this work were first shown in public in 1893, using the viewing apparatus also designed by Dickson, and called the Kinetoscope. This was contained within a large box, and only permitted the images to be viewed by one person at a time looking into it through a peephole, after starting the machine by inserting a coin. It was not a commercial success in this form, and left the way free for Charles Francis Jenkins and his projector, the Phantoscope, with the first showing before an audience in June 1894. The Louis and Auguste Lumière perfected the Cinématographe, an apparatus that took, printed, and projected film. They gave their first show of projected pictures to an audience in Paris in December 1895.

After this date, the Edison Company developed its own form of projector, as did various other inventors. Some of these used different film widths and projection speeds, but after a few years the 35-mm wide Edison film and the 16-frames-per-second projection speed of the Lumière Cinématographe became standard. The other important American competitor was the American Mutoscope & Biograph Company, which used a new camera designed by Dickson after he left the Edison Company.

At the Chicago 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, Muybridge gave a series of lectures on the Science of Animal Locomotion in the Zoopraxographical Hall, built specially for that purpose in the "Midway Plaisance" arm of the exposition. He used his zoopraxiscope to show his moving pictures to a paying public, making the Hall the first commercial film theater.

William Kennedy Laurie Dickson, chief engineer with the Edison Laboratories, is credited with the invention of a practicable form of a celluloid strip containing a sequence of images, the basis of a method of photographing and projecting moving images. Celluloid blocks were thinly sliced, then removed with heated pressure plates. After this, they were coated with a photosensitive gelatin emulsion. In 1893 at the Chicago World's Fair, Thomas Edison introduced to the public two pioneering inventions based on this innovation; the Kinetograph - the first practical moving picture camera - and the Kinetoscope. The latter was a cabinet in which a continuous loop of Dickson's celluloid film (powered by an electric motor) was back lit by an incandescent lamp and seen through a magnifying lens. The spectator viewed the image through an eye piece. Kinetoscope parlours were supplied with fifty-foot film snippets photographed by Dickson, in Edison's "Black Maria" studio (pronounced like "ma-RYE-ah"). These sequences recorded both mundane incidents, such as Fred Ott's Sneeze, and entertainment acts, such as acrobats, music hall performers and boxing demonstrations.

Kinetoscope parlors soon spread successfully to Europe. Edison, however, never attempted to patent these instruments on the other side of the Atlantic, since they relied so greatly on previous experiments and innovations from Britain and Europe. This enabled the development of imitations, such as the camera devised by British electrician and scientific instrument maker Robert W. Paul and his partner Birt Acres.

Charles Francis Jenkins, wanting to display moving pictures to large groups of people, invented the first patented film projector. In 1894, his invention, called the Phantoscope, was the first to project a motion picture. At about the same time, in Lyon, France, Auguste and Louis Lumière invented the cinematograph, a portable camera, printer, and projector. In late 1895 in Paris, father Antoine Lumière began exhibitions of projected films before the paying public, beginning the general conversion of the medium to projection (Cook, 1990). They quickly became Europe's main producers with their actualités like Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory and comic vignettes like The Sprinkler Sprinkled (both 1895). Even Edison, initially dismissive of projection, joined the trend with the Vitascope, a modified Jenkins' Phantoscope, within less than six months. The first public motion-picture film presentation in Europe, though, belongs to Max and Emil Skladanowsky of Berlin, who projected with their apparatus "Bioscop", a flickerfree duplex construction, November 1 through 31, 1895.

That same year in May, in the USA, Eugene Augustin Lauste devised his Eidoloscope for the Latham family. But the first public screening of film ever is due to Jean Aimé "Acme" Le Roy, a French photographer. On February 5, 1894, his 40th birthday, he presented his "Marvellous Cinematograph" to a group of around twenty show business men in New York City.

The films of the time were seen mostly via temporary storefront spaces and traveling exhibitors or as acts in vaudeville programs. A film could be under a minute long and would usually present a single scene, authentic or staged, of everyday life, a public event, a sporting event or slapstick. There was little to no cinematic technique: no editing and usually no camera movement, and flat, stagey compositions. But the novelty of realistically moving photographs was enough for a motion picture industry to mushroom before the end of the century, in countries around the world.

The silent era

In the silent era of film, marrying the image with synchronous sound was not possible for inventors and producers, since no practical method was devised until 1923. Thus, for the first thirty years of their history, films were silent, although accompanied by live musicians and sometimes sound effects and even commentary spoken by the showman or projectionist.

Illustrated songs were a notable exception to this trend that began in 1894 in vaudeville houses and persisted as late as the late 1930s in film theaters. In this early precursor to the music video, live performance or sound recordings were paired with hand-colored glass slides projected through stereopticons and similar devices. In this way, song narrative was illustrated through a series of slides whose changes were simultaneous with the narrative development. The main purpose of illustrated songs was to encourage sheet music sales, and they were highly successful with sales reaching into the millions for a single song. Later, with the birth of film, illustrated songs were used as filler material preceding films and during reel changes.

In most countries the need for spoken accompaniment quickly faded, with dialogue and narration presented in intertitles, but in Japanese cinema it remained popular throughout the silent era.

Multi-reel films

It was around 1910 that the actors in American films, who up to this point had been anonymous, began to receive screen credit, and the way to the creation of film stars was opened. The appearance of films longer than one reel also helped this process. Such films were extremely rare, and almost entirely restricted to film versions of the life of Christ, which had reached three reels in length in the first few years of cinema. They were always shown as a special event in special venues, and supported by live commentary and music. A unique addition to this style of presentation was The Story of the Kelly Gang, made in Australia in 1906. This was a four-reel version of the career of this famous (in Australia) outlaw, and was incomprehensible without explanation. More multi-reel films were made in Europe than in the United States after 1906, because the MPPC insisted on working on the basis of one-reel films up until 1912. However, before this, some MPPC members got around this restriction by occasionally making longer stories in separate parts, and releasing them in successive weeks, starting with Vitagraph's The Life of Moses in five parts (and five reels) at the end 1909. In other countries this film was shown straight through as one picture, and it inspired the creation of other multi-reel films in Europe.

Pathé-Frères set up a new subsidiary company in the United States called Eclectic in 1913, and in 1914 this began production of features at the Pathé plant in New Jersey. The French Éclair company was already making films in the United States, and their production of features increased with the transfer of more film-makers when the French industry was shut down at the beginning of World War I.

Up to 1913, most American film production was still carried out around New York, but because of the monopoly of Thomas Edison's film patents, many filmmakers had moved to Southern California, hoping to escape the litany of lawsuits that the Edison Company had been bringing to protect its monopoly. Once there in Southern California, the film industry grew continuously.

The move to filming in California had begun when Selig, one of the MPPC companies, sent a production unit there in 1909. Other companies, both independents and members of the MPPC, then sent units to work there in the summer to take advantage of the sunshine and scenery. The latter was important for the production of Westerns, which now formed a major American film genre. The first cowboy star was G.M. Anderson (“Broncho Billy”), directing his own Western dramas for Essanay, but in 1911 Tom Mix brought the kind of costumes and stunt action used in live Wild West shows to Selig film productions, and became the biggest cowboy star for the next two decades.

Most of the major companies made films in all the genres, but some had a special interest in certain kinds of films. Once Selig had taken up production in California, they used the (fairly) wild animals from the zoo that Colonel Selig had set up there in a series of exotic adventures, with the actors being menaced or saved by the animals. Essanay specialized in Westerns featuring “Broncho Billy” Anderson, and Kalem sent Sidney Olcott off with a film crew and a troupe of actors to various places in America and abroad to make film stories in the actual places they were supposed to have happened. Kalem also pioneered the female action heroine from 1912, with Ruth Roland playing starring roles in their Westerns.

Minor curiosities were some of the films of Solax directed by Herbert Blaché and his wife Alice Guy. They left American branch of the Gaumont company in 1912 to set up their own independent company. The distinguishing feature of some of their films was a deliberate attempt to use resolutely theatrical-type light comedy playing that was directed towards the audience. This went against the trend towards filmic restraint already visible in what were called “polite” comedies from other film companies.

In France, Pathé retained its dominant position, followed still by Gaumont, and then other new companies that appeared to cater to the film boom. A film company with a different approach was Film d’Art. This was set up at the beginning of 1908 to make films of a serious artistic nature. Their declared programme was to make films using only the best dramatists, artists and actors. The first of these was L’Assassinat du Duc de Guise (The Assassination of the Duc de Guise), a historical subject set in the court of Henri III. This film used leading actors from the Comédie Francaise, and had a special accompanying score written by Camille Saint-Saens. The other French majors followed suit, and this wave gave rise to the English-language description of films with artistic pretensions aimed at a sophisticated audience as “art films”. By 1910, the French film companies were starting to make films as long as two, or even three reels, though most were still one reel long. This trend was followed in Italy, Denmark, and Sweden.

Although the British industry continued to expand after its brilliant beginning, the new companies that replaced the first innovative film-makers proved unable to preserve their drive and originality.

Film art

He vast increase in film production after 1906 inevitably brought specialist writers into film-making as part of the increasing sub-division of labour, but even so the film companies still had to buy stories from outsiders to get enough material for their productions. This introduced a greater variety into the types of story used in films. The use of more complex stories derived from literary and stage works of the recent past also contributed to developments in script film construction. The general American tendency was to simplify the plots borrowed from novels and plays so that they could be dealt with in one reel and with the minimum of titling and the maximum of straightforward narrative continuity, but there were exceptions to this. In these cases the information that was difficult to film and lacking in strong dramatic interest was put into narrative titles before each scene, and this was also mostly the custom in European films of the more seriously intended kind. Motion pictures were classified into genres by the film industry following the divisions already established in other media, particularly the stage. The main division was into comedy and drama, but these categories were further subdivided. Comedy could be either slapstick (usually referred to as “burlesque farce”), or alternatively “polite comedy”, which later came to be referred to as “domestic comedy” or “sophisticated comedy”. D.W. Griffith made a small number of the latter type of film in his first two years at Biograph, but had little interest or aptitude for the genre. From 1910 he let Frank Powell, and then Mack Sennett direct the Biograph comedies. Sennett left in 1912 to set up the Keystone Company, where he could give his enthusiasm for the slapstick comedy style derived from the earlier Pathé comedies like le Cheval emballé (The Runaway Horse) full rein. In Europe the more restrained type of comedy was developed in substantial quantities in France, with the films of Max Linder for Pathé representing the summit of the genre from 1910 onwards. Linder's comedy was set in an upper middle-class milieu, and relied on clever and inventive ways of getting around the embarrassments and obstacles arising in his single-minded pursuit of a goal. Quite often a goal of a sexual nature.

D.W. Griffith had a major influence on the simplification of film stories. After he had been at Biograph for a year, Griffith started to make some films that had much less story content than any previous one-reel films. In The Country Doctor, the action is no more than various people, including the doctor, hurrying backwards and forwards between the doctor's house, where his child is sick, and a neighbouring cottage, where another child is also sick. By 1912 and 1913, there are beginning to be many films from many American companies that rely on applying novel decoration to the story, rather than supplying any twists to the drama itself to sustain interest.

Alongside the Hollywood tradition, there has also been an "underground film" tradition of small-budget, often self-produced works created outside of the studio system and without the involvement of labor unions.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011 11:23

Fefka Art Director's Union

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Fefka art directors union is a brotherhood of people who are implementing the magic of art into the frames of cinematography. This organization started on 2009 November 9 by the creative minds who always strives to fly ahead. The growth of the organization in the short span of three years shows not only the leaders capability but also the interest and care of the each and every union members.

While most of the associations confine its projects in its planning level, FEFKA only plans accomplishable projects and execute them in its disciplined manner. This website is only one of them.

This website meant to co-ordinate their actions and let interact their members with FEFKA art directors Union. It helps people to communicate and interact easily with our members.

FEFKA Art directors union was formed in middle of disputes and conflict of Malayalam Film Industry .It was formed as Art Directors Union on 2009 November at a general meeting of Art directors and assistant Art directors of Malayalam Film industry held at Y.M.C.A hall, Cochin. On the Same day there formed FEFKA, Art Directors Union decided to affiliate them to FEFKA and get recognized by IIF. The Union is of a purely non-political and non-communal nature

The First Executive committee :

President                    :          SREENI

Vice President            :         SANTHOSH RAMAN, SABURAM

General Secretary      :        JOSEPH NELLICKAL

Joint Secretaries         :        GOKUL DAS, BOBAN

Treasurer                    :         GIREESH MENON


On 5th October 2009 Fefka Art Directors Union got Trade union registration under the number 07-30-2009

Inspection and approval of all the records, accounts and registers by the representatives of AIFEC, Mr. Sabu Pravadas attended the National Conference of AIFEC held at Chennai on 9th ,10th , & 11th October 2009 as the Invited representative from Our Union. This Conference passed the resolution to affiliated FEFKA in All India Film Employees Confederation (AIFEC).

The Annual General Body held at YMCA Ernakulum on 16th November 2009.  Elected the New Governing Body for the term 2009- 2011.

President                         :        JOSEPH NELLICKAL

Vice President                 :       BOBAN, SHAJI MUKUND

General Secretary           :     SABU PRAVADAS

Joint Secretaries              :   SHAJIE NADUVIL, SANTHOSH RAMAN

Treasurer                         :      GIREESH MENON


Members to the General Council of Fefka : JOISEPH NELLICKAL, SABU PRAVADAS, GIREESH MENON

Sri Sibi Malayil, President of FEFKA, inaugurated the new office of FEFKA ART DIRECTORS’ UNION at P C Chambers, Ashirbhavan Lane, Kacheripady Ernakulum on 1st May 2009. Sri. Joshi listen the lamp and Sri Unnikrishnan. B, General Secretary FEFKA inaugurated the Identity card distribution. Sri Jose Thomas, Treasurer FEFKA, Sri.  Seven Arts Mohan General Secretary FEFKA Production Executives Union and many other renowned film personalities were present at the occasion.

Santhosh Raman, & Shaji Mukund represented our union in the National Executive committee meeting of Aifec held at Chennai on 5th June 2010. Honored Sri Jose Thomas (Producer) and Sri Joshi Mathew (Director) for winning the Fipresci award for their Film “Patham Nilayile Theevandy”.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011 12:55

Art Direction

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History of art direction

Up until 1939 the title ‘Art Director” was used instead of the present term ‘Production designer. At that time the person in charge of art department was named as Set Decorators. In 1939 David Selznick gave special recognition to William Cameron Menzies for his comprehensive work in the film GONE WITH THE WIND and he became the first production designer in Film History.From then on wards the head of art department got the title ‘ ART DIRECTOR’ and the first person who got the this title is ‘ LYLE WHEELER’ in the film GONE WITH THE WIND.













The First film show took place at Grand Café, Paris on 28 December 1895 by Lumier Brothers.

The first talking Movie in the world – Jazz Singer ( 1927)

The first film made in India – Raja Harichandra ( 1913) by Dandiraj Govind Phalke

The first talking movie in India- Alam Ara ( 1931 March 14 ) by Adershir Irani

First Cinemascope movie in India – Kagaz ke Phool  ( ) by Guru Dutt

First color film in India

First Cinemascope movie in Color

First 70 mm movie in India – Around the World ( ) by

The first film made in Kerala – Vigathakumaran ( 1928 ) by J. C. Daniel

The second movie made in Kerala -  Marthandavarma  ( 1931 ) by V D Rao

The first talking movie in Malayalam – Balan  ( 1938 )  By S Notani

The first color film In Malayalam   - Kandambecha Kottu  ( 1961 )

First Cinemascope film in Malayalam – Thacholi Ambu ( ) By Appachan

First 70 mm movie in Malayalam – Padayottam ( ) By Jijo

First 3D Film Malayalam – My Dear Kuttichathan ( 1984 ) By Jijo