Film is and always has been a global industry. Yet Hollywood stands as the prime example of creativity, productivity, and crowd pleasing entertainment within the film industry.
While the pace and popularity of film production in France, Japan, and now India (to name a few) have experienced major fluctuations, Hollywood took a grip on the business of film in the early 20th century and has maintained a strong presence in the world film market and in the popular imagination.
Hollywood developed the "studio" mode of production, which emphasized the role of the producer in the process of film making. Other film cultures placed more emphasis on directors in the process. The virtues of the Hollywood studio system were defined by consistency and productivity and seen by many as a successful business model.
In southern California, film making is given the moniker, "the industry", as Hollywood employes many people in a variety of professions. Lighting engineers, actors, set designers, make-up artists, graphic effects artists and many professions are included in the cast and crew of Hollywood films.
Hollywood is just a district in Los Angeles, and much of it is old and run down. The term "Hollywood," as applied to the movie business in the United States, has a different meaning than it did many years ago when the major studios were located in that district. Now "Hollywood" includes many places where movie ideas and movie financing are endlessly discussed and deals are made. Examples of places that are included in the concept of "Hollywood" are Malibu, Beverly Hills, Newport Beach, Brentwood, Santa Monica, parts of the San Fernando Valley, Burbank, and, of course, New York City where much of the financing money comes from. Woody Allen recently made pictures in Paris and Rome. Movie deals can originate in airplanes and in restaurants and often at parties in private living rooms, swimming pools and bedrooms. Tourists who go to Hollywood hoping to see movie stars are in for a disappointment. They end up looking at footprints and handprints of former stars like Shirley Temple in front of a theater on Hollywood Boulevard. They can also look at countless identical metal stars embedded in the sidewalks, honoring men and women connected with show biz. The big studios that remain in Hollywood are remnants of the past. They do not produce films on an ongoing basis as they did under the old studio system. Instead they rent out the sound stages and the sets and even the camera and lighting equipment to independent filmmakers for single ad hoc productions. Everything is "packaged." The name "Hollywood" still has a lot of glamor all over the world, but the district itself has seen far better days.
Elmore Leonard's novel Get Shorty gives a very good overview of how movies get made--or fail to get made--in "Hollywood" today. He has had many of his books made into films (including Get Shorty) and has done some original screenwriting and adaptations himself. Another good look at contemporary "Hollywood" can be seen in the movie The Player (1992), starring Tim Robbins. A much older view of Hollywood in its glamor days is the movie The Day of the Locust (1975), based on the excellent novel of the same title by Nathaniel West.