Round The Studios Continental
Paramount (French) Studios. Joinville, St. Maurice, near Paris, France. "DICTURE a large stretch of countryside, complete with lazy little streams meandering through the sleepy meadows, where cows graze contentedly ; near by a big river, carrying picturesque barges. Imagine all the attendant noises of farm and river life, intermingling with filmland sounds. You have Joinville, Paramount’s French studio, near Paris.
They do not need to build “ sets ” at Joinville, with so much that is picturesque ready-made. So much so, in fact, that a flock of sheep strayed in one day, and were promptly pressed into service as “ extras.” In the grounds there is a wonderful bit of greensward and some fine old trees, giving an old-world atmosphere as you enter this city of make-believe. Yet almost at the door is a railway-bridge—which reminds you that Joinville is a mere half-hour’s run from Paris.
Not more than three years ago the Joinville studios were opened. Already they have a long list of French successes to their credit, as well as literally dozens of foreign versions, made in seven other European languages. Almost every Continental artiste of note has worked at the Paramount studio and such a cosmopolitan gathering has given an air of camaraderie and individuality to the studio.
The French stars, themselves, have a style in their dressing-rooms in much the same way as French fashions have their own particular stamp ; there is a chic which engages the eye.
Work at Joinville starts early, stops late, and is broken only by a very short luncheon interval. The presiding god of the studio is Robert T. Kane who arranges all those little details that ensure smooth production in a country where so many stage-stars are film-stars as well.
Round the Studios
Screen work must not clash with theatrical appearances and Mr. Kane sees to it that it does not. He rules the destinies of his people with a smiling grace that endears him to all the inhabitants of his little city.
Rasunda Studio (Sweden)
Svensk Filmindustri Centrum, Stockholm.
rT4VENTY minutes by tramway-car from the centre of Stockholm lies the Rasunda studio of Svensk Filmindustri. Even were it remarkable for nothing else, Rasunda Studio would be given a place in history, for it was here that Greta Garbo played her first leading part, in The Atonement of Gosta Berling. A Swedish cameraman at Rasunda first drew that amazing personality on to celluloid.
Apart from Rasunda’s association with the great Garbo, the Svensk Filmindustri studio has a long and honourable history. Standing in a belt of trees within a stone’s throw of the sea, Rasunda has been the birthplace of a number of films remarkable for their artistry and thoroughness. It is characteristic of the Swede to be efficient without ostentation, and these big studios, built in the style of a Swedish country estate, are staffed by men who are wrapped up in the art of film-making, and who are encouraged by the directors of the company to develop their individual ideas. Thus the studio has a pleasantly “ family ” atmosphere not usually found in film-centres.
Sound is recorded by a special system designed and developed in the studio, giving very smooth and pure reproduction. Svensk Filmindustri —or “ Swedish Biograph,” as they are commonly known throughout Europe—produce an average of 12 talkies a year. They have lately taken up the production of Swedish versions of British films. The studio, moreover, is not unknown to British players, for Elissa Landi, Matheson Lang, and Miles Mander went over there to make a film.
Closely in touch with the Rasunda studio is the Svensk Filmindustri distribution organization, which controls a number of Swedish theatres. Here is one of the most remarkable cinema services in the world. The Stockholm filmgoer who wishes to book a seat at a Svensk cinema has only to lift his telephone, ask for “ S.F. Tickets,” and he is immediately connected with the company’s private exchange. They inform him at once whether any seats are available and if so, their position. Furthermore, the “ S.F.” operator will add any information which may be required as to the stars appearing in the picture, the times of showing, or even the contents of the newsreel for that particular week.
Universum Films (U.F.A.), Neubabelsberg Studios, near Berlin.
/“^F all European film studios, the U.F.A. film city at Neubabelsberg, near Berlin, is among the finest and most up-to-date. It has 14 separate sound-floors and 42 buildings for technical and administrative purposes. All have grown on the spot where, in 1912, there was nothing but a tiny glasshouse, dignified by the name of film studio,” which kept the rain off the company that made the first Asta Nielsen pictures.
It was not until April, 1929, that workmen, tearing down the last of the
Round the Studios
sets surviving from Metropolis, began to clear ground for the huge new U.F.A. film centre. Something magnificent grew from the barren waste. Hundreds of floodlights made an artificial day for the night-shifts and made the work ceaseless. In a few weeks four new studios had been erected— great square buildings, their bare walls uninterrupted by any windows. Ventilation is maintained mechanically. So free from outside sound are these studios that, even during a thunderstorm, no murmur reaches the ears of those working within.
The electrician’s store houses 1,500 spotlights for studio-illumination. Sixteen million feet of film a year pass through the small printing plant attached to the studios for the rushes alone. There are five private theatres, each with its own projection-room, where the day’s work can be thrown on the screen for the benefit of directors, stars and staff.
In one year 100,000 square }’ards of plywood are used in the Ufa workshops, and an equal quantity of linen ; not to mention 40,000 square yards of planking, 600,000 feet of lath wood and moulding, 300 tons of plaster,
6.000 square feet of glass, and 1,000,000 kilowatts of electric current generated by 9 power-plants of 23,000 amperes capacity.
Grouped round the studios are rows of very modern dressing-rooms, bath-rooms, and rest-rooms. Workshops, offices, and board-rooms provide for a studio staff of 500. The property-rooms and furniture stores alone number 14 distinct apartments, containing 10,000 pieces of furniture and
8.000 costumes. There are 21 cutting-rooms.
Neubabelsberg has a unique feature in its “ Nature Studio.” Ufatone Educational films are world-famous. In these Nature studios, time-switch cameras (worked by no human hand), with microscopic and telescopic lenses, and special temperature-controlling apparatus, have all gone to the making of films which have brought fame to animal—and even microbe—actors.
All this sounds exceedingly statistical. What of the human element ? At no studio is the spirit of co-operation more evident than at Neubabelsberg. In the big canteens of the studio you will see blue-overalled electricians lunching with daintily-dressed extra-girls, carpenters taking coffee with firemen, real and make-believe, and stars and their directors discussing difficult points of production.
There are 800 workmen employed in and about the studios, and they all speak with the warmest praise of the conditions in which they work at the U.F A. headquarters..
The world film encyclopedia, 1933
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