“Pass the Popcorn” - The Extraordinary People Who Created Hollywood!!! - Gregory Breen

This series will look at the history of filmmaking in its North American epicentre. We will discuss how cinema started, how it grew and its innovations, its politics and the filmmakers who were at its core.


Session One: April 23, 2024

The Birth of Hollywood

In the first week we will look at how the world capital of cinema came to be.  Beginning with how innovators in The US and France turned technical engineering into art with the creation of the film camera and the cinematograph. We will investigate how enterprising people built studios for production in a small town in California called Hollywood and how they went on todominate the world.


Session Two: April 30, 2024

Hollywood Gets Political

 In out second lecture we will look at censorship or the lackthereof in early Hollywood and how the industry came to censor itself. As Hollywood not only became an industry but also the dominant entertainment of the new century, political interests became to take notice of its influence. Fearing government crackdown, studio heads created the Production Code as way of maintaining morals in the film industry. We will look at how the head of the new production code office , William Hayes and his successor, Joseph Breen became the most influential men in Hollywood.


Session Three: May 7, 2024

Union Organising in Hollywood

 As Hollywood recovered from the Wall Street Crash and Great Depression in the 1930s, studio heads were demanding more work for less pay and refusing to define the labour of specific positions and department heads. This combined with the so-called “Red Scare” regarding communist infiltration in Hollywood led to Actors, Directors, screenwriters and others becoming political in their ultimate goal of making better, more interesting and more exciting movies. In this lecture we will look at the rise of the Guilds in Hollywood and how this affected the evolution of the Hollywood system.


Session Four: May 14, 2024

The Beginning Of The End Of The Golden Age

 Following World War II, many of the old Hollywood moguls who built the studios died, retired or were forced out. This combined with changing attitudes  of the audience, the end of the Hays Code and the influence of films from Europe and Japan caused a serious rupture in the American movie world, the Hollywood system fell after many expensive failures. Here will we will discuss the end of ‘Old Hollywood’ and the birth of ‘New Hollywood.’ The rise of the first wave of filmmakers who studied moviemaking as a career.


Session Five: May 21, 2024

The Filmmakers Who Made A Difference

 In week five we will look at the induvial moviemakers who changed the system. From early silent auteurs like Lois Weber, DW Griffith and Charlie Chaplin to the kings and queens of the Golden age; Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder, Ida Lupino  and Dorthey Arzner. To the filmmakers who lived through New Hollywood and the rebirth of the studio system in the 1980s and beyond.


Session Six: May 28, 2024

The Movies That Broke The Mould

 Our final lecture will look at the great Hollywood films that changed the medium. Which films pushed the culture, the business and the medium forward. We look at long held classics like Citizen Kane (1941) and Birth of a Nation, (1915) but also forgotten treasures such as Hypocrites (1915) Lois Weber’s satire on American family life with the first use of female nudity in a mainstream film. Travel through the golden age hitting classics like The Best Years Of Our Lives (1946) and Psycho (1960) entering new Hollywood with Easy Rider (1968), Bonnie and Clyd (1967) and Star Wars (1977).



Greg is an award-winning filmmaker who was born and raised in Dublin Ireland. Greg has an interest in mystery and dramatic storytelling in feature film. He studied film at Humber College and Toronto Metropolitan University, and has worked as a writer, director, editor producer, script supervisor and assistant director. His short films and feature film, The Long Night, have screened at festivals in Canada and Europe and are available to view online. His most recent short film P R E Y, is a dark horror film and can also be found online.


In 2018 Greg started teaching classes on film history and production beginning with his course For Love Not Money at Beaver Valley. Since then Greg began teaching Video Production at Humber College, Film Studies at George Brown College and multiple courses on film production and history at the Trebas Institute. He earned his Master of Arts in Media Production with  focus on film noir from Toronto Metropolitan University in 2020.


Greg is also involved in Theatre. He co-directed the Toronto Irish Players production of John B Keane’s Many Young Men of Twenty in 2020 and will return this fall to direct the production of Brownbread by Roddy Doyle.