Scott Kirsner’s ‘Inventing the Movies’: free online video

Scott Kirsner at Google HQ

Film Studies For Free has already waxed lyrical about CinemaTech, the great blog by Scott Kirsner. Today CinemaTech offered up a link to a video posted on YouTube by Google of a hugely informative 46 minute-long talk on the history of Hollywood film technological innovations given by Kirsner when he visited the company. The presentation is wonderfully delivered and festooned with great clips.

Here’s the blurb for the talk, with hyperlinks added by Film Studies For Free for further information:

Scott Kirsner visits Google‘s Mountain View, CA headquarters to discuss his book “Inventing the Movies: Hollywood’s Epic Battle Between Innovation and the Status Quo, from Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs.” This event took place on October 16, 2008, as part of the Authors@Google series.From Edison to the iPod, from the Warner Brothers to George Lucas, the story of how the movies became America’s favorite form of escapist entertainment–and retained their hold on our imaginations for more than a century–is a story of innovators prevailing again and again over skeptics who prefer to preserve the status quo. Inventing the Movies unspools the never-before-told story of the innovators who shaped Hollywood: how a chance meeting at the Saratoga Race Track led to the end of black-and-white movies … how Bing Crosby brought you the VCR … how Walt Disney tamed television … how a shotgun blast signaled the end of hand-made models and the beginning of digital special effects … and how even the almighty Morgan Freeman had trouble persuading theater-owners that the Internet wasn’t their mortal enemy. Inventing the Movies is an important read not just for fans of Hollywood’s history, but for innovators trying to make change happen in any industry.

This is obviously a very ‘technology-positive’, not to say ‘technologically-triumphalist’, take on Hollywood/California history; for much more nuanced views readers should take a look at Henry Jenkins‘s work, including his blog. But Film Studies For Free thinks that this free video is well worth a watch and certainly serves as a particularly good and lively introduction to film technology history for those who are fairly new to the topic.

P.S. Film Studies For Free was stunned yesterday to hear the news that the aforementioned Henry Jenkins is to depart from the MIT Comparative Media Studies program that he co-founded to take up a new position at the University of Southern California. Truly, the end of an era, but hopefully the beginning of another one for work on participatory culture.

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Catherine Grant

| Former Professor of Digital Media and Screen Studies | Audiovisual essayist, writer and researcher |