Record #304

Record Type:
Record of meeting
Reel 3
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Meeting between producers and actors at AMPAS conference, discussing production economy. The actors use the opportunity to ask for better working conditions.


Actors (1), Labor - actors (14), Producers (5), Production costs (13), Unit production (2) Show all keywords…


Long Description:

Conrad Nagel proposes a read-through of the script and general conference with players before shooting, and more information about production costs."There are in existence, as we know, only 36 dramatic situations." (6) -- suggests that actors could be consulted more to introduce more variation into familiar material. Part of this notion of crisis seems to have to do with a sense that the industry has no new ideas, or no new cheap ideas. "If we can persuade man of the leading players to abandon now and then their stereotyped parts they would be rendering a very great assistance to the industry. The moment a well-known leading man appears on the scene and the well-known leading woman comes on a little later, the audience knows automatically what situation is going to arise and that those two players will get together at the end of the picture."(7)Beery talks about "cabinet meetings" at the Lasky studio with technicians, camera men, etc. -- about cutting costs. The question to ask about this discussion is whether there was some pressing reason for the concern about costs, or whether it was simply the result of the increase in costs that had been going on for the previous four years. Nagel says the Actor's branch of the Academy want a definition of what a week's work is for a free-lance actor. (14) A number of other free-lance complaints about their treatment by studios -- working nights and Sundays, etc. (22) This is much more like a list of employees' complaints than the other meetings, but attendance wasn't particularly good. Jokes from Tom Mix. Lasky says the problem is to cut the cost of production by 25%. (53) "The biggest thing you can do for us, probably, is to think of arousing and awakening conscience. It seems nothing more or less than what Mr. Edison said when he got on his feet -- dear old Bob -- he said, 'I have nothing to say. I am contented.' That is what is the matter with the industry. That is what is the matter with Jesse Lasky and everybody else. we have been too contented. We have been asleep, every one of us." (54) Lasky claims responsibility for the 10% salary cut. Lasky and Joe Schenck say they didn't know that freelance actors were abused in the ways that have been described, and Schenck suggests that they take their complaints to the AMPP. The producers mouth sentimental homilies, although Mayer is somewhat more forthright -- generally critical of the unit system, suggesting that directors want to be their own companies, but on his money. (73) He suggests that the combination of art and business is a more appropriate description of things than seeing it as a discussion between capital and labour.

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