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Cobblestone presents:
Hollywood Renegades
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Introducing
Click here for the SIMPP Research Database to learn more about the Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers.
Biographies of the independent producers
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Copyright 2008
Cobblestone Entertainment.
All rights reserved.

COBBLESTONE NEWS


Redisovering Independent Hollywood

J. A. Aberdeen's "Hollywood Renegades"

In one of the most revealing new books on film history, "Hollywood Renegades" takes readers on an inside look of the illustrious organization known as the Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers. Commonly known as SIMPP, the group was secretly formed in 1941 by some of the most famous names in Hollywood. This movie dream team included Walt Disney, Charlie Chaplin, Samuel Goldwyn, Mary Pickford, David O. Selznick, and Orson Welles.

They were independent filmmakers who defied the studio system of classic Hollywood. In an era of big film corporations, these producers answered to no one. They financed their own features, executing them with complete creative control and singular vision. Believing that individual artists, and not studios, should be in charge of making movies, they produced some of the industry's most memorable features -- "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937), "Gone With the Wind" (1939), "The Best Years of Our Lives" (1946), and "Citizen Kane" (1941).

They also had a secret mission: to bring an end to the Hollywood studio system that churned out mass-produced films under factory-like conditions.

In classic Hollywood, the Big Eight studios like Paramount and MGM held tight control over every aspect of the film industry from movie stars to movie theaters. The large studios were also friendly rivals which made the Hollywood studio system one of the most potent oligopolies in United States corporate history. Under the Big Eight stranglehold of production, distribution, and exhibition, no independent feature could succeed without the studio stamp of approval.

Instead, the Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers envisioned a future based on independent production. While they abhorred the assembly-line methods of the major studios, the independents used the studio system to their advantage. SIMPP taught other filmmakers how to protect their autonomy by forming their own independent production companies. The organization attracted other producers and actors who defected from the studios including Howard Hughes, James Cagney, Bing Crosby, John Huston, and Stanley Kramer.

Determined to break up the studio cartel, SIMPP brought pressure on the antitrust division of the U.S. government to take the major Hollywood corporations to court. Using their high-profile stature, the independent producers also took the case to the public, exposing the industry grievances that had previously been hidden behind the glamourous image of Hollywood. Finally in 1948, after a decade-long legal battle, the independent producers celebrated as the Supreme Court ordered the Hollywood studios to sell their theater monopolies, in a move which effectively brought an end to the old studio system.

As SIMPP achieved industry prominence, the Big Eight released more independent productions and curtailed studio operations. By the end of the 1950s, over 75 percent of the Big Eight releases were supplied by independent companies. The trend has continued in the film industry to this day. Independently produced films have become the new industry norm, just as SIMPP had imagined years before. However, just when SIMPP was set to flourish, the group unexpectedly declined. After the monumental Supreme Court decision, the independent society no longer had a common enemy and a unifying objective. The organization quickly degenerated into disagreements and dissensions among its members. By the early 1960s, the group had broken up and the remnants of SIMPP were absorbed by Walt Disney Productions. The Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers, which had once commanded headline news, became forgotten.

Hollywood Renegades: The Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers is the never-before-told story of this independent trade organization which proved so influential in shaping the movie industry. The result of years of careful and dedicated research, Hollywood Renegades explains how the independent producers reinvented Hollywood, bringing the movie industry out of the studio era and into the modern age.

Film historian J. A. Aberdeen, known for combining thorough research with engaging insight, has uncovered lost documents and original SIMPP records that have remained unpublished until now. A graduate of Brigham Young University, the author is also married to a member of the DreamWorks SKG production team. Aberdeen's experience in film scholarship and ties to the movie industry make this book an essential read for all film enthusiasts.