Hollywood's Early Days: From Quiet Town to Film Capital

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A group of people surrounds a large conical megaphone, with one man speaking into it on a movie set. Text: "Douglas Fairbanks uses a 'state of the art' communications device on the set of Robin Hood (1922)."

All was quiet until 1907, when bad weather drove a small Chicago film company westward to complete a shoot.

The first real studio, Nestor Film Company, soon followed from New Jersey, cranking out three pictures a week – one ‘western,’ one ‘eastern,’ and one comedy – for a grand total of $1,200.

By 1912, word of Hollywood’s ideal film-shooting climate and landscapes spread, and at least 15 independent studios could be found shooting around town. Old barns were turned into sound stages and Hollywood’s quiet time was over.

It wasn’t just sunny skies that spurred the mass film migration to Hollywood. In 1897, famed inventor and early movie mogul Thomas Edison began suing rival producers who were utilizing filmmaking-projection devices based (he felt) on his Kinetoscope technology.

Many of these movie ‘pirates’ fled from New Jersey (home of the Edison Company and the original movie capital), first to Cuba, then to California for good.