Santa Cruz County History - Films

Wharton Film Studio Promotional Brochure: Why Santa Cruz...

has been selected as the location for the studio and production activities of Wharton Film Classics, Inc.

[The following text is from a booklet issued by Wharton Film Classics, Inc. On the booklet's front cover, the company advertises "Temporary Offices" at 12 1/2 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, Calif. Although no date of publication is given, activities described in local newspaper articles indicate that it was probably written around 1927-1928. ]

Announcing its formation, organization and plans of operation for the benefit of the entire community, so that they may employ for their own benefit, the information contained herein and at the same time make clear to the public in general, its various plans of operation and leave to the vision of the reader, the many benefits that can come to him and his community.

For where there is an active motion picture production company in their midst, there must be reflected a considerable portion of its prosperity and success in the community.

As to the right place and conditions for the production of motion pictures, the fallacy that picture production can only be carried out successfully in any single community, has long since been exploded.

The ever-increasing costs of production are due largely to the efforts of large producing organizations toward confining their activities to one locality. Southern California as a producing center has long since lost its advantages. That this is so, is proven by the fact that producing organizations are continually sending their producing units great distances in search of more suitable backgrounds for their needs.

In the early days of the industry, when out-door pictures were the vogue, as they still are to a great extent, the consistent climate of the southern part of the state was, of course, preferable to the erratic climate of other sections of the country, and as the fame of Los Angeles was already being heralded, what was more natural than to seek the sunshine, inasmuch as the sunshine could not be brought to them? They heard nothing of the wonders of SUPERIOR CALIFORNIA, nor of the delightful climatic conditions that prevail in Santa Cruz during the greater part of the year.

This was before the development of the wonderful lighting equipment that now frequently takes the place of sunlight, making the need of sunshine 365 days in the year not entirely necessary.

An intensive study of producing conditions in Hollywood has shown that the greater part of the wonderful production facilities of the motion picture industry in that community have been either built or imported. These facilities consist chiefly of studios and equipment. There is an insufficient variety of natural and architectural backgrounds for the needs of the producing organizations.

This is proven by the fact that 65 per cent of the California made pictures are laid in backgrounds that are from 300 to 500 miles from the many Hollywood studios. This means that most of the producing organizations are compelled to transport their companies this great distance to secure the necessary exterior backgrounds, and later, reproduce in the studios the interior settings of such architectural structures as may have been used while on such locations.

From two to four days are lost each time such trips are made. The salaries of a large force of actors, technical staff and extra people must be paid during such lost time. In addition, there is the cost of transportation of the great amount of equipment and properties necessary for the use of the company. Much of this is rented by the day at exorbitant rental prices and must be paid for whether used or not. Every day that is lost adds to the burden of expense.

When the scenes on location have been photographed, the film must be returned to the studios or laboratories in Hollywood to be developed. The company meanwhile must remain at location until it is determined whether or not the scenes must be retaken, otherwise an additional trip might be necessary for that purpose.

This all proves conclusively that efficiency of production can best be maintained by locating studio facilities in closer proximity to the greatest VARIETY of natural and architectural backgrounds.

The fact that Southern California producing organizations are compelled to send their companies to central and northern California points for the purpose of securing these necessary advantages has convinced Mr. Wharton of the advisability of conducting his own operations in Superior California, and he has selected Santa Cruz as the most logical location for that purpose.

Scenic Advantages

Within a radius of 125 miles of Santa Cruz can be found the rare scenic beauties of every character and description, that play such an important part in the making of successful motion pictures.

Every climate may be found, and stories dealing with the wide stretches of the sands of the Sahara to the deep blue waters of the Mediterranean, or from the South Sea Islands to the snow-clad peaks of Alaska, as well as metropolitan cities and rock-bound, storm-swept coasts, may be brought within range of the camera within a few hours' ride of Santa Cruz.

Recent excursions into the country surrounding and contiguous to Santa Cruz, have disclosed wonderful new scenic locations that have never been screened, and that will prove a revelation when utilized as backgrounds for photoplays.

Equipment Proposed for Studio

The Wharton Film Classics Studio will be fully equipped in every respect, containing facilities for no less than four producing units. The latest and most up-to-date lighting and laboratory equipment and a complete property and costume department will be available for all needs.

The studio will contain interior reproductions of all unusual architectural locations that may be discovered in the vicinity of Santa Cruz.

The general equipment will include motor-driven 150 k.w. generators, wind machines and powerful lightings of the sunlight arc type, as well as all other necessary lighting equipment. Everything will be portable for location purposes, thus obviating the necessity of transporting such equipment the great distances now necessary. A laboratory will also be a part of the studio equipment for the purpose of enabling the working companies to "screen their work" daily.

Service Unit for Use of Other Companies

These facilities will not only greatly reduce costs of production on the pictures to be made by Wharton Film Classics, Inc., but the same service will be offered for the use of visiting companies at a price that will enable such companies to take a like advantage of the reduced expense, and at the same time make a profit for the Wharton Service.

In other words, WHARTON SERVICE STUDIOS will be all that their name implies--SERVICE, for Wharton companies and for others at a fair price.

Several of the prominent production managers of Hollywood have stated that they would consider such service "a godsend," as it would relieve them of many burdens that they are at present compelled to shoulder, regardless of expense.

While only the larger production organizations are able to afford these location trips under the present conditions, our plan will throw open a wonderful field of backgrounds to the many smaller organizations who have heretofore been limited in their operations and compelled to produce only such stories as can be filmed in the limited backgrounds now available to them. All will be able to take a like advantage of the scenic beauties of Superior California.

Possible Advantages to the Community

Immediately there becomes necessary the vast numbers of workers in the profession. It is a recognized fact that labor follows its hire, and it is also a recognized fact that in every community there have been discovered individuals whose talent and art was a latent power, and all that was needed was the development of a means by which that talent might be expressed or exposed. It is also true that there is an attraction for labor in its various branches when there is any activity apparent. This activity attracting as it does, the labor that is needed, is that same activity that has so characterized the various sections of the country, whether it be the building of a railroad, the opening up of a mining town, or the building of the studios that have proven to be the magnet by which thousands of talented and gifted people have been brought together to offer their services in the lines that they were suited to, and there is no question but what Santa Cruz residents will have the same privilege and enjoy the same prosperity that other studio centers have enjoyed.

Publicity and Salesmanship

Another drawback to the successful operation of any studio desiring to supply service for other producers is lack of publicity and salesmanship. This will be well taken care of under the Wharton plan, as a Hollywood office will be maintained, in charge of an experienced production manager, who will continually canvas producers who are seeking service, keep them informed of the facilities available to them, and co-operate in every way to supply their needs, so that when their companies arrive in Santa Cruz, everything will be ready for immediate operations.

The following interview appeared in The San Francisco Examiner of March 8, 1927:

Leland Stanford Ramsdell Says That City Has
All the Advantages To Be Found in Hollywood

"After two years of successful photoplay production," said Mr. Ramsdell yesterday, "I am convinced that, if necessary facilities were provided here, the motion picture producers would not be slow to transfer many of their activities to this section. I am for San Francisco first, last and all the time."

"Beautiful studios are already available at San Mateo, but a producer finds himself at a loss for costumes, extras of the proper type, technical workers for the building of scenery, the kind of lighting apparatus that is required, camera repairers, and a multitude of other details which keep Hollywood the center of the motion picture industry, because all those facilities are available there and nowhere else."

"When I went into the production of motion pictures my bankers here said I was crazy. But I have applied business principles to the making of movies, and I have succeeded."

The above is also considered a partial confirmation of Mr. Wharton's statements and claims.

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