Any tips on researching silent-film cinematographers, etc.?

Open, general discussion of silent films, personalities and history.
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ChristineURen

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Any tips on researching silent-film cinematographers, etc.?

PostTue Nov 21, 2017 9:06 pm

Hi--
I'm researching a cinematographer who was an assistant cameraman at Paramount during the 1920's, George T. Clemens (later known for The Twilight Zone). I haven't been able to get much info about his silent career--as a second cameraman, he didn't get a lot of official credits at that time, so the titles don't turn up on IMDB. He was an assistant to a well-known cinematographer, Karl Struss, but I can't be absolutely certain he worked on all the films Karl shot. (One TZ researcher said he did work on Blood and Sand, so I've got that.) Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can track down more solid credits for assistants? The same would go for members of art depts (for future projects). Paramount does not provide any assistance on research projects. Is there a period directory of cinematographers (or "cinenapographers" ; D ) I could look for? I've found a lot of info on Clemens' early sound career at Archive.org, but very little on the silents.
Thanks for any advice!
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missdupont

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Re: Any tips on researching silent-film cinematographers, et

PostWed Nov 22, 2017 9:18 am

Media History Digital Library has International Photographer magazine and of course could turn up other things. AMPAS' Margaret Herrick Library has the ASC (American Society of Cinematographers) Collection and a full run of its magazine, including photos/articles etc from the magazine. The Herrick could possibly have a clipping file on him as well, or something that shows up in their periodical collection. The Herrick has the Paramount collection which includes production reports on virtually all of its films. Looking at the ones Struss worked on might include his crew in daily listings. Also, some of the film clipping files there include contact lists for full cast/crew which includes their home addresses, so you could check to see if any Struss films had those. They also have access to Daily Variety/LA Times/New York Times/Chicago Tribune at their computers. You might want to check all the newspaper databases like Chronicling America, Fulton History, Newspapers.com, Access Newspaper Archives, and the like, stories might turn up in them, particularly if something unusual happened on set. He might have bought an ad in year end motion picture directories, so there's that. The city directories for LA would show where he lived. Maybe try the ASC itself or guilds where people were members.
Mary
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rudyfan

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Re: Any tips on researching silent-film cinematographers, et

PostWed Nov 22, 2017 11:52 am

Mary, really? I found the pickens very slim with regard to RV at the Herrick in the Paramount collection. Was I looking in the wrong places?
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Hamilton's Grandson

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Re: Any tips on researching silent-film cinematographers, et

PostWed Nov 22, 2017 1:02 pm

I definitely would plan to physically visit Herrick than utilize their NFS service from a long distance as their manuscript inventory department is more effective working with the researcher when he/she is one on one with the library staff member (opinion and my experience).
Mark Hamilton (I) is on imdb.com
Joseph Hamilton (I) is on imdb.com
Gertrude Brooke Hamilton is on imdb.com
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missdupont

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Re: Any tips on researching silent-film cinematographers, et

PostWed Nov 22, 2017 5:58 pm

Hi Donna,
Yes most of the Paramount stuff is 1930 on, little silent, but sometimes those production reports go into great detail about non-shooting things. Looking at SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS, there were notes about a phone call producers and Veronica Lake had with doctors about how she should take care of herself, since she was pregnant while making the film. On another one of her films, there was a three page memo documenting all the ways she had held up production, from turning up late in the morning, coming back late from lunch, drinking, not knowing lines, claiming she was ill, or just not showing up. Some also listed each of the shooting locations around town.

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