Industrial Films are films made by a company or sponsor for the specific purpose of showcasing a product or service. They are not works of cinematic art or entertainment in and of themselves. The films are designed to satisfy a specific informational need and pragmatic purpose of the sponsor for a limited time. Many of these films are also considered orphan works, since they lack copyright owners or active custodians to guarantee their long-term preservation. Here we will take a closer look at this niche propaganda medium (which rarely gets attention in most writings about films) to better understand “films that work”.
Industrial film has its roots in the European “documentary” films of the mid-1920’s and early 1930s. In 1926 the term is first coined by John Grierson; the founder of the British documentary movement. He used the word while writing a review of Robert Flaherty’s film, ”Moana”. The term is derived from “documentaire”, a French word to describe travelogues. Grierson goes on to champion the idea that documentaries should be much more than travel films. He believes that they that have the potential for social and economic good, to help eliminate poverty, oppression and war. The documentary film is officially born.
Documentaries begin to evolve and mature. We next see this film type used in a much darker way, during World War II. A young film producer, Leni Riefenstahl was given a free hand to produce Nazi propaganda films for the German war machine. One of the most notorious of these political documentaries, “Triumph of the Will” (German: Triumph des Willens), was her work. It is often sighted as the archetype for this kind of film.
After the war, in 1948, “See Britain by Train” was produced by the British Transportation Commission under Edgar Anstey – a …Read More