Although many Hollywood studios bear the same names as they did during their classical period, and although Hollywood remains vitally important within the global cultural industries, these businesses operate according to very different logics and respond to very different conditions.
This class offers an economic and institutional study of the contemporary film industry. We will look at how Hollywood is currently organized (or disorganized) and examine the reasons why it is structured the way it currently is. We will trace the production process of theatrical films from their conception through to their critical reception, as one goal of the class is to develop an understanding of the complex systems and hard work behind the making of a motion picture. This will shed light on the behind-the-scenes, non-glamorous elements of movie-making as a craft and as a commercial art form in the context of a global industry. We will look at many of the different people and organizations that make Hollywood function, including unions and guilds, producers, talent agents, marketing and advertising agencies, lobbyists, and lawyers, to name a few. Finally, we will look at many of the forces currently shaping Hollywood, such as conglomeratization, globalization, piracy, and the rise and impending decline of the DVD market.
Films screened for the class will include narrative fiction films about the industry, "behind the scenes" documentaries, as well as films that exemplify a particular week's concept, from product placement to the powers of the MPAA. All films will be viewed critically and not as simple reflections, as Hollywood's imagination of itself often diverges sharply from reality (or, "reality").