Simply a Series of Views

A Day in the Hayfields
P: Hepworth Manufacturing Company. UK 1904
Print: BFI

A Day in the Hayfields (1904) merges two of the most popular non-fiction genres of early cinema, the industrial and the scenic. The industrial film was a series of shots following a particular process from beginning to end. It might be a specifically industrial process like the blasting and shaping of slate, a more rural subject like strawberry picking or, as in this case, the cutting and gathering of hay.
The industrial was an interesting way of combining the simplicity of non-fiction filming – you did not have to write a story or cast actors – with the interest of a story, as the audience followed a particular item through its various stages until it reached the finished product, here in the form of haystacks. The scenic, on the other hand, was normally plotless, simply a view or series of views of a particular place or event. (…) However, the pleasure of the scenic for the audience lay in the picturesque quality of the images, at a time when urban audiences in particular did not necessarily have the opportunity to travel to the countryside.
A subject like this was particularly suited to the Hepworth Company, since it had a reputation for photographic excellence, deriving from its output of non-fiction scenic films.”
Simon Brown

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