The Ambrosio studio during the film of Cenerentola (1913), from http://www.youtube.com/user/inpenombra
There’s always some particularly fascinating about seeing films of films in production from the silent era. The business-like way a team has to go about creating fantasy, the sheer number of people who made up that team, the famous mingling with the functional. So here are some of the clips of silent films in production which you can find online. Above we have the Ambrosio studio, Turin, in 1913, with the director Eleuterio Rodolfi and actors Fernanda Negri Pouget, Mary Cleo Tarlarini and Ubaldo Stefani, during the filming of Cenerentola (Cinderella). The provenance is unclear, but the video comes from the Inpenombra YouTube channel, offshoot of the excellent In Penombra website, which features a number of clips of early Italian films.
Manning Haynes directing London Love at the Gaumont studios in 1926, from http://www.itnsource.com
Next up, the this Gaumont Graphic newsreel (which I can’t embed but which you can find on the ITN Source site) shows the filming of the 1926 British film London Love, directed by Manning Haynes at the Gaumont studios, Lime Grove, and starring Fay Compton, John Stuart and Fay Compton. The intriguing story behind this one is the newsreel was made on the occasion of a BBC radio broadcast about the film (the known as The Whirlpool), so we see not only film production but radio production too (including dance band). With thanks to Eve from bringing this one to my attention.
Henny Porten and Emil Jannings during the filming of Anna Boleyn, from http://www.britishpathe.com
Newsreel websites are a handy source for films of film production, though examples from the silent era are rare. From the British Pathe site, this fleeting clip (originally from the German newsreel Messter-Woche) shows Emil Jannings (Henry VIII) and Henny Porten (Anna) incongrously arriving on set in full costume by car for the filming of Anna Boleyn (1920). A second brief clip shows Ernst Lubitsch directing the film from a platform.