Tuesday, September 15, 2020
In the Studio

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In his introduction to the newly published anthology In the Studio: Visual Creation and Its Material Environments, editor Brian R. Jacobson notes how, despite their prominence in the mythology of Hollywood, film studios have attracted relatively little scholarly attention. “As a hidden necessity for illusionary forms of cinematic and televisual production, they were often present but rarely noticed by film and television viewers or acknowledged by critics,” he explains. “Hiding in plain sight, these critical sites readily faded into the background of text- or exhibition-focused critical discourse.” In the Studio seeks to remedy the situation by bringing together a dozen new essays, on subjects ranging from Cinecittà, Nikkatsu, and CBS to more experimental centers like the Eames Office, Buffalo’s Digital Arts Lab, and Aleksandr Medvedkin’s Kino-Train.

For our show this week, Jacobson is joined by three of the collection’s authors: J.D. Connor, who considers the case of Lucasfilm in Marin County, California; Rielle Navitski, who writes on Brazilian studios of the silent era; and Sarah Street, who has contributed a piece on mid-century innovations at Pinewood Studios in the UK. Hearing their discussion, one comes to understand, as Jacobson puts it, “just how many things—aesthetic, material, conceptual, economic, social, and political—these not-so-simple, not-so-already-understood structures create and contain.”

J.D. Connor is an associate professor of cinema and media studies at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. He is the author of The Studios After the Studios and Hollywood Math and Aftermath.

Brian R. Jacobson is Professor of Visual Culture at the California Institute of Technology and the author of Studios Before the System: Architecture, Technology, and the Emergence of Cinematic Space.

Rielle Navitski is an associate professor in the Department of Theatre and Film Studies at the University of Georgia. She is the author of Public Spectacles of Violence: Sensational Cinema and Journalism in Early Twentieth-Century Mexico and Brazil and co-editor of Cosmopolitan Film Cultures in Latin America, 1896–1960.

Sarah Street is a professor of film at the University of Bristol. She is the author of British National Cinema, Transatlantic Crossings: British Feature Films in the USA, Black Narcissus, and, with Tim Bergfelder and Sue Harris, Film Architecture and the Transnational Imagination: Set Design in 1930s European Cinema. Her latest publications are on color film, including Colour Films in Britain: The Negotiation of Innovation, 1900–55 and, with Joshua Yumibe, Chromatic Modernity: Color, Cinema, and Media of the 1920s.

Above: Alice Guy-Blaché at the Solax Studio.