Chapter II


Making the Movies by Ernest A. Dench
New York, The Macmillan company, published 1915 (now in the Public Domain)

pp. 9-11

The question raised in this chapter cannot be answered in a few words. To begin with, let us turn to the legitimate stage. Here every leading player has an understudy for his or her part, for as one role is played often for months at a stretch there is the liability of the lead falling ill at a critical time. It is therefore advisable to have another player who understands the part to fall back upon in the case of emergency.

This is not so noticeable on the theatrical stage when the play is gone over hundreds of times as it is in the photoplay which is performed just once. I am not, of course, taking rehearsals into account.

You can just imagine the effect were you to see a one reel play in which Earle Williams was the hero through some of the scenes, while Maurice Costello deputised for the remainder. Thus, you see, what a farce the situation would develop into.

Well, supposing, a director has started work on a multiple reel subject in which, for instance, Mary Fuller is starred. What would the director do were our idol to be prevented from playing for some unaccountable reason, you ask?

That director would have to make the best of the bad job, or in other words he would be obliged to wait until Miss Fuller was disposed again before proceeding with the play. In the meantime he would borrow a heroine from another director or else he would use his character or emotional lead in her place. If both of these two expedients failed he would get plays to fit in with the talents of his remaining players.

But the leading photoplayers -- the heroines mostly -- do have what is known as a substitute to perform the thrilling stunts, which deemed too dangerous for the leads, are entrusted to some dare devil man, who is made to pass muster from a distance.

You can't detect the deception because he generally has his back towards the camera, or is so far in the background that it is impossible to notice the difference.

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