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The Art of Story Writing : CHAPTER XII Motion-Picture Plays

by Nathaniel C. Fowler, JR   

CHAPTER XII Motion-Picture Plays

THE epidemic growth of the moving-picture play has opened a field for the cultivation of what may be considered a new department of literature, or, rather, of what is in a way allied to it.

It is said that a hundred million dollars are invested in the motion-picture business. There is hardly a town of any size, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, or from Winnipeg to the Gulf of Mexico, which does not support one or two moving-picture houses.

The admission is usually ten cents, occasionally as much as twenty cents being demanded at the door.

The motion-picture play is produced by concerns of enormous capital, who send their agents or photographers all over the world, to the African jungle and to the frozen regions of the North.

Although the majority of scenes are produced in the picture-making theater, at times, however, the whole or a part of the action occurs out of doors. The camera can be stopped at any moment, and the action may be in a dozen places, if need be.

The motion-picture play-maker employs a number of competent actors, who comprise his stock company, and often engages those of international reputation. Several rehearsals are held, that the actors may become familiar with the play before it is finally photographed. As a rule, the actors speak their parts, that their work may be realistic.

The playwright may or may not write in the dialogue, but it is better for him to do so; but he must present the plot and outlines of the situations, and designate the characters and their costumes. He is further required to indicate what they are to do and say, but he may not put the words to be spoken into their mouths. It is obvious that there must be rapid action, and that the play must be so constructed as to be self-explanatory by action, as there are no spoken words. It is probable, however, that a combination of camera and talking-machine will soon be introduced, which will require as much attention to the dialogue as to the action of the play.

The writers of moving-picture plays receive from twenty-five to a hundred dollars for a so-called plot. While an intimate knowledge of stage craft is unnecessary to the framing of a moving-picture play, the author will find that a familiarity with dramatic conditions will be of much benefit to him.