The Author And The Film - Motion Picture History
By REX BEACH
Author of "The Spoilers," "The Silver Ifarde," "The Barrier," "The Iron Trail" etc.
THE public is beginning to pay more attention to motion pictures and to treat them seriously. There is a new attitude developing all over the country that is very significant, especially in regard to well-known authors in pictures.
Producers have been pricked into activity by new enterprises that have engagteli the services of establiiled writers—writers of books that make picture material of wide appeal and range of interest—writers whose names frequently appear in the best American and English periodicals.
These authors are writing on themes vital to the people—on things of present and immediate interest. Their picture plays claim the attention won by the publication of their novels first in magazines and then in the best selling books.
Only a few years ago the gap between the American author and the photoplay was so wide that a combination of the two in the producing field seemed a distant vision. Within the last year, the author's name as a valuable asset to the motion picture has become as great as that of the actor-star.
Changes occur with lightning rapidity in the photoplay world, but the causes at the basis of this change are too fundamental to be attributed merely to the passing whim of the producer. The public is, after all, the dictator of films. The public has learned, or rather, the public has been taught that the author is just as important to the photo-play as versatile star, lavish settings and exquisite photography.
A few years ago neither the author nor the producer realizcd their potential values to each other. The motion picture, sound as its future seemed, was still in the experi mental stage. The author, in most cases, was unwilling to acknowledge that the new popular medium was worthy of attention. The photoplay, on the other hand, suffered from the absence of the guiding hand of the experienced fabricator of plots. It was in danger of becoming merely the agency for the exploitation of the personal screen success.
The rapidity with which both factors have acknowledged their need of each other attests to the prophecy that in the future literature will find itself expressed through the screen as well as through the printed page. Certain stories, of course, are not fitted for photoplay reproduction because they depend more upon psychological motives for their development.
The direct cooperation of author and producer—joins the trained hand of the author to that of the director on the throttle at the producing end. It results in the coordination of all the details of production by the man who created the plot, the characters and the setting.
There is something to be said for the author who disdained the photoplay heretofore, who was forced to witness the mutilation of his story into an unrecognizable caricature. Each side has now made concessions. Each realizes the indispensability of the other. Each has noted with approval the growing demand for the good story, the well-thought-out plot, characters drawn from life rather than from the stilted lay-figures of the studio.
The author is now contesting with the star for supremacy. His own laurels, the many photoplays created from well-known novels in recent months, are proof of his value to the newest and most popular art.
Source: THE MENTOR, Volume 9, Number 6, July 1, 1921, Page 31