Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cecil B. DeMille Studio Barn

Los Angeles County -  July 28, 1997 & June 14, 2009

The Studio Barn is now the Hollywood Heritage Museum which is right off the 101 and in a parking lot across from the Hollywood Bowl. From its original 1896 location, the barn was moved to Paramount Studios where it sat for 55 years and was occasionally used as a set. It was saved from destruction and moved to its present location in 1982. On the first visit here in 1997 the building was closed due to fire damage the previous year.

Though not the first movie shot in the LA area (Old California has that distinction), it was the first feature length film made in Hollywood. Back in 1913 most movie sets were open roofed and used natural light, so the fair weather, cheap rents, and endless variety of exterior shots made southern California the obvious choice as the new center for the burgeoning film industry. Another factor was Thomas Edison’s financial lock on east coast filmmakers, think of New York as an iPhone and Hollywood as open architecture Android.

Even in his first feature film, Cecil B. DeMille’s flair for location shooting was in full swing. The saloon set was built by railroad tracks in the San Fernando Valley, while harbor scenes were shot in San Pedro. Meanwhile, they went Keen Camp in Idyllwild for open range cattle shots, and over to Palomar to catch some snow. DeMille’s partners included Jessie Lasky (became Paramount) and Sam Goldwyn (MGM), with comedy film legend Hal Roach doing a bit of acting as well. Even DeMille himself was extra.

Though the adapted stage play is reviewed as being somewhat staid and Victorian in direction, it was made for about $20,000 and grossed nearly $250,000, making it the Blair Witch Project of its day and gave DeMille power and influence. He liked it so much he made the movie again in 1918, and again as a talkie in 1931.  

Plaque inscription: NO. 554 CECIL B. DeMILLE STUDIO BARN - Cecil B. DeMille rented half of this structure, then used as a barn, as the studio in which was made the first feature-length motion picture in Hollywood-The Squaw Man-in 1913. Associated with Mr. DeMille in making The Squaw Man were Samuel Goldwyn and Jesse Lasky, Sr. Originally located at the corner of Selma and Vine Streets, in 1927 the barn was transferred to Paramount Studios.
Location: 2100 N Highland Ave, Hollywood
GPS: 34.108562,-118.336208

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