December 8, 2003
Film professor wins 'Academy' award
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
names Shelley Stamp one of two Academy Film Scholars
By Scott Rappaport
Associate professor of film and digital media Shelley Stamp has been
named one of two 2003 Academy Film Scholars by the Academy of Motion
Picture Arts and Sciencesthe same folks who bring us the Academy
|Associate professor of film and
digital media Shelley Stamp has been awarded $25,000 from the Academy
of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to complete a book about silent
film director Lois Weber. Photo: Scott
Stamp will receive $25,000 from the Academy to complete a book about
silent film director, screenwriter, and actress Lois Weber.
The Film Scholars Program was created in 1999 to stimulate and
support the creation of new, innovative and significant works of film
scholarship about cultural, educational, historical, theoretical, or
scientific aspects of theatrical motion pictures.
I was stunned when I heard the news; I never imagined I would
win, said Stamp. But I'm so grateful that the Academy is
recognizing research on early women filmmakers. What a thrill it will
be to 'thank the Academy' at the awards luncheon."
Stamp was selected to receive this years award along with Thomas
Doherty, chair of the Film Studies Program at Brandeis University. They
are the fourth pair of film scholars to be honored by the Grants Committee
of the Academy Foundation, whose members include cinematographers, directors,
producers, actors, and writers. Stamp is also the youngest scholar and
second woman ever granted such an award.
Only established scholars, writers, historians and researchers
with a significant record of achievement were considered for the grants,
noted Grants Committee Chair Janet MacLachlan.
The two Academy Film Scholars will receive the first half of their
grants at a December 11 luncheon hosted by the Academy at the Regent
Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles. Following the completion of their
manuscripts, they will present their projects at a public Academy event.
Stamps project focuses on Lois Weber, a female director of the
silent-film era who became the first and only woman granted membership
in the Motion Picture Directors Association, a precursor to the Directors
Guild of America. Despite achieving widespread fame during the early
1900s, Weber has been mostly neglected by film historians.
"Her reputation has not survived as well as those of other prominent
silent film directors such as D. W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille,"
Stamp noted. "But in the 1910s, Weber would have been included
along with them in any mention of the industry's top directors. Until
very recently, her filmmaking legacy was largely lost."
Stamp said that Webers career spotlights the importance of activist
filmmaking in the early years of the American film industry.
"Weber was a director/screenwriter who made films about social
problems in the 1910s," Stamp explained. "She took on all
of the hot button issues of the decade, including contraception, capital
punishment, drug abuse, religious intolerance, and labor issues. Her
career flourished during a period when the industry was open to activist
filmmakers. By the 20s, that era was largely gone, as the industry
shifted more towards glamour, entertainment, and escapism."
Stamp added that during the 1910s and early 20s, women held a
degree of influence in Hollywood that remains unmatched even today.
"Weber was extremely well known and well respected in her lifetime,"
Stamp said. "For a time, she was the highest paid director in Hollywood,
and she was a celebrity of sorts, profiled in movie fan magazines, women's
magazines, and national newspapers. By looking at her career and work,
I can trace the cultural history of early Hollywood and women's important
Stamp said she would use her grant to cover travel expenses for conducting
research at film archives, as well as to help her take time off to write
She has already traveled to the Library of Congress in Washington,
D.C., the UCLA Film and Television Archive, the National Film Archives
in London, the Nederlands Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, and the Academy's
own archive in Los Angeles in order to examine original scripts, promotional
materials, industry trade publications, and rare archival film prints.
Ultimately, Stamp's book, Lois Weber in Early Hollywood,
will be published by University of California Press.
Return to Front Page