Currently on display in the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater is an exhibition of behind-the-scenes movie photography that charts the history of motion pictures and lifts the studio curtain to reveal the collaborative work that breathes life into the silver screen. From silent cinema to the advent of sound, early independent productions to the rise and fall of the studio system, black-and-white to color, widescreen, 3-D, computer generated imagery and beyond, it’s all here.
The talented still photographers who created these images were not limited just to taking glamour shots of star favorites, recreating key scenes from a movie for publicity or recording movie sets and locations for production use. Their art can also been seen through their documentation of the changing landscape of the industry itself: from the early days of the first film production companies, such as Biograph, Edison and others, to the modern, digital-dominated era.
Additionally, these photographs shed light on many of the “below-the-line” jobs that are essential to the production process but are often overlooked by the general public: editors, lighting technicians, boom mic operators, camera crew, makeup artists, visual effects supervisors, stunt people and others. More often than not, these vital artisans and craftspeople are just outside the camera’s reach, but they are captured here for us, on the set. The photographs on display are all courtesy of the collections of the Margaret Herrick Library.