Winner of the Theatre Library Association’s Richard Wall Memorial Award Special Jury Prize for an exemplary work in the field of recorded performance
After the advent of sound, women in the British film industry formed an essential corps of below-the-line workers, laboring in positions from animation artist to negative cutter to costume designer. Melanie Bell maps the work of these women decade-by-decade, examining their far-ranging economic and creative contributions against the backdrop of the discrimination that constrained their careers. Her use of oral histories and trade union records presents a vivid counter-narrative to film history, one that focuses not only on women in a male-dominated business, but on the innumerable types of physical and emotional labor required to make a motion picture. Bell's feminist analysis looks at women's jobs in film at important historical junctures while situating the work in the context of changing expectations around women and gender roles.
Illuminating and astute, Movie Workers is a first-of-its-kind examination of the unsung women whose invisible work brought British filmmaking to the screen.
Introduction. Women’s Work in Film Production: Concepts, Materials, and Methods
1. Organizing Work: Gender and the Film Trade Union
2. The 1930s: Modernizing Production
3. The 1940s: Wartime Opportunities
4. The 1950s: Rebuilding Britain
5. The 1960s: The New Pioneers
6. The 1970s and 1980s: Working with Feminism
Epilogue: Legacies and New Beginnings
Appendix A: Application Form for Membership in the Association of CineTechnicians (circa 1930s)
Appendix B: ACT Job Levels, 1947
Appendix C: Film Technicians: Numbers and Percentage by Gender, Decade, and Production Category
Melanie Bell is a professor of film history in the School of Media and Communication at the University of Leeds. Her books include Julie Christie: Stardom and Cultural Production and Femininity in Frame: Women and 1950s British Popular Cinema.
"A much-needed critical volume. Movie Workers fills a major gap in scholarly and popular film history, presenting a meticulous and engaging analysis of a wealth of fascinating new data and case studies." --Technology and Culture
"This is a very important book. It is no exaggeration to say that it totally re-writes the labour history of the British film industry. . . . Methodologically precise." --Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television
"This important study acts as a political weapon, a much-needed act of recovery and a revision of British film history." --Times Literary Supplement