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Santa Cruz County History - Films
On Location in Santa Cruz County: The Film Lists - A Background
by Ann Young
"However, by 1922 Hollywood's share of American production stood at 84 percent, with 12 percent remaining in New York and 4 percent filming elsewhere....But what of that 4 percent produced outside either Hollywood or New York? With 748 features released in 1922, this suggests that some 30 feature pictures (and a proportionate number of shorts) were filmed elsewhere. Even allowing for a handful of imports, the number is still significant. The bulk of these films were made by small local producers without access to national distribution. Many remained unseen. Some were sold on a states rights basis and never played in a key theater or won the attention of an urban reviewer. For historians, these regional productions are the 'terra incognita' of the American film industry. Local historical societies treasure vague records of production in Ithaca, Providence, Ogden, and Augusta, for example, but so little information survives that most historians simply omit this activity altogether."
Richard Koszarski, "An Evening's Entertainment: The Age of the Silent Feature Picture, 1915-1928"
As the Richard Koszarski quote indicates, researching local film history can be a daunting task. Fortunately for Santa Cruz, a number of area historians and journalists have taken an—at least passing—interest in the city's colorful relationship with the "moving pictures." The work they have done, the articles they have written, provide valuable overviews of film history in Santa Cruz County. Despite this effort, however, there is still a sense that information on local films (particulary those dating back to the 1910's and 1920's) remains fragmentary and scattered. The local history articles that have at one time or another appeared on the subject are not necessarily easy to find, and it was, in any case, rarely their intention to reconstruct detailed accounts of the production of specific films. The lists provided here are an attempt to bring together the general (numerous titles compiled from a wide variety of sources) with the specific (contemporary newspaper articles) in a single, accessible source. They are intended as supplements and guides to the work that has already been done.
It is important to note that, although the lists presented here are extensive, they are not exhaustive. This is due to two factors: the nature of this particular project and the difficulties inherent to researching local film history in general. The following points contributed to the limitations of these lists:
- In the early days of film (particularly the 1910's and 1920's) "moving pictures" were being shot at such a furious pace that local papers often didn't have the chance to report the filming before crews had completed work and returned to their studios in the south. Reports of filming activity that were published often contained no mention of titles, studios, or even specific actors or actresses--making it very difficult to determine how many (much less exactly which) films were produced in the area.
- The fact that film titles often tended to change between the time of filming and their appearance in theaters added yet another variable to the equation. To avoid as much confusion as possible in listing these films, alternate titles were included.
- The dates provided in parentheses following the titles of films on this list are release dates. In those instances where a release date could not be confirmed, the date given is the year in which the film was shot. If a film was made in one year but not released or copyrighted until a later date, this discrepancy is noted beneath the title. Where possible, dates (and titles) were confirmed using "The American Film Institute Catalog" and the "Motion Picture Catalog of Copyright Entries." Every effort was made to use the most commonly accepted date. Where a lack of information made this impossible, the date was approximated.
- Finally, the research done for this project was limited to sources available at the Downtown Branch of the Santa Cruz Public Library and to the unpublished material from the Barbara Giffen collection in the History Archives, Museum of Art and History at the McPherson Center, Santa Cruz, California.
It is our continuing goal to make available a selection of articles on various subjects and places in Santa Cruz County. Certain topics, however, have yet to be researched. In other cases, we were not granted permission to use articles. The content of the articles is the responsibility of the individual author. It is the Library's intent to provide accurate local history information. However, it is not possible for the Library to completely verify the accuracy of individual articles obtained from a variety of sources. If you believe that factual statements in a local history article are incorrect and can provide documentation, please contact the Webmaster.