From ‘The Crown’ to ‘Hollywood,’ Inside TV Directors’ Decisions on When to Use Period-Accurate Film Styles
In 1921, the film industry was dominated by silent black-and-white projects shot with boxy, wood-bodied 120 cameras using 35mm film. It was two years before the 16mm would be invented, and a few more before camera bodies would shift to metal and synchronized sound would become an option.
When depicting this period for a pivotal premiere sequence that sets up not only the protagonist’s family history but also the racism that even an alternate version of America would endure in HBO’s “Watchmen,” executive producer and director Nicole Kassell wanted to root events firmly in historical truth.
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The sequence begins with an African American boy watching a black-and-white film about the first Black sheriff, Bass Reeves. “I imagined the film the young boy is watching was directed by Oscar [Micheaux],” Kassell says. (Micheaux wrote, produced and directed 42 films