Richard E. Norman and Race Filmmaking

Richard E. Norman and Race Filmmaking

Barbara Tepa Lupack, foreword by Michael T. Martin
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 11/08/2013
Format: Paperback 40 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-01064-3
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Finalist, 2013 Richard Wall Memorial Award (Theatre Library Association)Winner, 2015 Jacksonville Historic Preservation Award

In the early 1900s, so-called race filmmakers set out to produce black-oriented pictures to counteract the racist caricatures that had dominated cinema from its inception. Richard E. Norman, a southern-born white filmmaker, was one such pioneer. From humble beginnings as a roving "home talent" filmmaker, recreating photoplays that starred local citizens, Norman would go on to produce high-quality feature-length race pictures. Together with his better-known contemporaries Oscar Micheaux and Noble and George Johnson, Richard E. Norman helped to define early race filmmaking. Making use of unique archival resources, including Norman's personal and professional correspondence, detailed distribution records, and newly discovered original shooting scripts, this book offers a vibrant portrait of race in early cinema.

Author Bio

Barbara Tepa Lupack has written extensively on American literature, film, and culture. She has authored or edited more than 20 books and taught at universities within the United States and abroad.


“Grounded in impressive archival research, Barbara Lupack’s book offers a long overdue history of Richard E. Norman and the filmmaking company he established early in the twentieth century. Lupack’s ability to describe Norman’s films—and the work that went into their production—reanimates them for readers and stresses their role in shaping early African American cinematic representation.”
 — Paula Massood, author of Making a Promised Land: Harlem in 20th-Century Photography and Film

“Lupack’s book provides a wealth of archival information about this vibrant moment in film history . . . . [This] is a solid contribution to regional film studies and race film business practice, and will appeal to scholars, students, and film-buffs alike.”
 — Black Camera

“Thoroughly researched and crisply written. . . The first book-length work on Norman, Lupack's monograph clearly delineates the Norman Company's importance . . . [Richard E. Norman and Race Filmmaking's] most profound contribution lies, perhaps, in how it illuminates the fraught economics of race filmmaking . . . .”
 — Journal of American History

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Michael Martin
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: A New Vision of Opportunity
1. Race Matters: The Evolution of Race Filmmaking
2. "Have You Talent?": Norman’s Early Career
3. "Not a White Man in the Cast": Norman’s Early Race Films
4. "Taking Two Hides From the Ox": The Bull-Dogger and The Crimson Skull
5. "A Risky Experiment": Zircon and Regeneration
6. "You Know We Have the Goods": The Flying Ace and Black Gold
7. "It Takes a Darn Good One to Stick": Norman’s Later Career
Appendix 1: Shooting Script: The Green Eyed Monster
Appendix 2: Shooting Script (Fragment) and Scenario: The Bull-Dogger
Appendix 3: Shooting Script: The Crimson Skull

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