More facts of the silent-era taken from the 1947 article: Hollywoods Green Years! A regular practice at the start of a production was for a hunt, whereby a spectacular place to kill a villain was found. This was usually a high cliff. Fifty feet of the heroine in the heroes arms was shot and then a 20 foot walk into the sunset. At this point the whole production company sat down and figured out the first part of the production which resulted them in getting to the finished point. The universal motto was “Do and Die First; Reason why Later!”
Another report from this article was that $1.50 was paid daily to extra players. It was also reported that good extra players were contracted to $10 a week. And there were bonuses of $1 if they performed stunts like jumping over a cliff, wrestling a berserk steer, or swimming a river that is in flood.
There was no such thing as doubles in the silent film era. Seemingly if the script called for the hero to fall from a precipice, the actor would would fall personally. Acorroding to the article this would usually be into a haystack or into the sea. The article goes onto say that in one saga the leading man was strung up by the neck and then to be rescued in the nick of time by a posse, however the horse that he was on bolted. He was then literally hung for a few moments. Talk about really getting into the part. The report says that he got a sore neck for his trouble and asked for a raise.