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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 comprised a series of shots following a particular process from beginning to end, whether an industrial process, such as the blasting and shaping of slate, or a more rural subject like this one. Industrial films were well suited to the simplicity of non–fiction filmmaking as producers didn't have to write a story or cast actors.
The scenic film presented a view or series of views of a place or event. The pleasure of the scenic for the audience lay in its evocative images, at a time when urban audiences didn’t necessarily have the opportunity to travel to the countryside.
The film was released by the Hepworth Manufacturing Company, which had a reputation for photographic excellence. The company’s owner, Cecil Hepworth, had a love of pictorial painting and photography which he hoped to emulate in his films, and he almost certainly directed the film himself.