Three-Dimensional Space as a Production Value

Unlike their American counterparts, many early British filmmakers shot scenes and even whole films—including interiors—out of doors, whether in “back-garden” studios or on open-air stages. Cecil Hepworth describes the set that he used in 1898-99 as “a wooden floor, about 10 feet by 6 feet, laid down in the tiny back garden with two or three uprights to prop the flats against.” Not surprisingly, then, many English producers found it only slightly more troublesome to take cast, crew, and equipment to nearby outdoor “locations” in order to shoot sequences whose “realism” was enhanced by the three-dimensional space afforded by natural settings. Even as late as 1906, the economic conditions of filmmaking in England perpetuated the same production values: many companies—even some of the most successful—were one-man operations, with producers often building their own equipment as well as directing and acting in their own movies.

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