The 30 mile zone (aka “TMZ” or “studio zone”) is the approximately 30 mile area in Southern California where America’s movie industry is based. However, New Jersey was the centre of film in America before Hollywood.
Thomas Edison owned a majority of the patents on motion picture cameras and through these patents, he tightly controlled who could make films. In 1908, he formed the Motion Picture Patents Company, a licensing trust that included other important motion picture patent holders, including Eastman Kodak, who sold the only film stock that film makers could legally purchase.
The patents allowed the group to use law enforcement to prevent unauthorised use of their cameras, film, projectors or any variation of this equipment that included features that infringed on their patents. In some cases they hired thugs to do the enforcement.
Understandably, these tight restrictions stifled innovation and crippled the film industry.
Independent filmmakers fled to Hollywood. The physical distance from the Edison Trust made it easy to work on their films without the tight control and patent enforcement.
The reliable sunshine and temperature also made Hollywood a more suitable place to make films year-round.
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