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.

Documentary filmmaking and intellectual property law: free e-book and short films

The above great little comic book can currently be downloaded for free in a new and expanded edition from the Duke University Press website.

Bound by Law?: Tales from the Public Domain, by Keith Aoki, James Boyle, and Jennifer Jenkins takes a humorous look at copyright and fair use issues in relation to filmmaking. The book has a new foreword by Oscar-winning filmmaker Davis Guggenheim (Director of An Inconvenient Truth) and a new introduction by award-winning novelist and copyright activist Cory Doctorow.

Here’s the blurb about the book (which was available, in its earlier, shorter edition, through Google Books) from the Duke University Press website:

A documentary is being filmed. A cell phone rings, playing the Rocky theme song. The filmmaker is told she must pay $10,000 to clear the rights to the song. Can this be true? Eyes on the Prize, the great civil rights documentary, was pulled from circulation because the filmmakers’ rights to music and footage had expired. What’s going on here? It’s the collision of documentary filmmaking and intellectual property law, and it’s the inspiration for this comic book. Follow its heroine Akiko as she films her documentary and navigates the twists and turns of intellectual property. Why do we have copyrights? What’s “fair use”? Bound by Law? reaches beyond documentary film to provide a commentary on the most pressing issues facing law, art, property, and an increasingly digital world of remixed culture.

The book is the fruit of the pioneering Duke Law School Center for the Study of the Public Domain. Do check out their fabulous website which, among many other resources (webcasts and online articles about fair use), has the following downloadable short films (via RealPlayer):

If you are a budding documentary filmmaker, or if you are teaching the next generation of budding documentarians, Film Studies For Free thinks that you should definitely check out all of the above resources.

Free (and legal) Online Films

Film Studies For Free knows from tireless study of its visitor statistics that one of the internet search phrases that most often brings readers to this site is ‘free online films’. So, for those (evidently numerous) folks who haven’t yet discovered the very best gateway to and repository of thousands of free and legal online films, including many important feature-length films (like Fritz Lang‘s 1931 M – Eine Stadt sucht einen Moerder – see still images above; please click HERE for the online film with English subtitles), here is the link to the website of your search engine dreams: the Moving Images section at the Internet Archive (a site you should explore for lots of other reasons, too). All Internet Archive material is in the Public Domain, so it’s a must-promote resource for an Open-Access advocacy website like Film Studies For Free.

So you can see the full scope of its rich offerings, below are the subsections that make up the Internet Archive Moving Images website area:

Animation & Cartoons Arts & Music Computers & Technology Cultural & Academic Films Ephemeral Films Movies News & Public Affairs Non-English Videos Open Source Movies Prelinger Archives Spirituality & Religion Sports Videos Video Games Vlogs Youth Media

Just click on the Internet Archive mantra below to link to its general search tool: