Monday, February 28, 2011

Film Projects & Early Filmmakers: Cecil Hepworth & Charles Pathe

Cecil Hepworth (1874 –1953):
How it Feels to Be Run Over (1900)
Explosion of a Motor Car (1900)
Alice in Wonderland (1903) by Cecil Hepworth
Rescued by Rover (1905)
That Fatal Sneeze (1907)

• Hepworth was an English film director, producer and screenwriter, he was among the founders of the British film industry and continued making films into the 1920s.
• His father was a famous magic lantern showman.
• He became involved in the early stages of British filmmaking, working for both Birt Acres and Charles Urban, and wrote the first British book on the subject in 1897.
• With his cousin Monty Wicks he set up the production company Hepworth and Co. — later renamed the Hepworth Manufacturing Compnay, then Hepworth Picture Plays.
• In 1899 they built a small film studio in Walton-on-Thames. The company produced about three films a week, sometimes with Hepworth directing.
• Rescued by Rover (1905) was a huge success at the box office, starring a collie in the title role. The film is now regarded as an important development in film grammar, with shots being effectively combined to emphasise the action. Hepworth was also one of the first to recognize the potential of film stars, both animal and human, with several recurring characters appearing in his films.
• The company continued making popular films into the 1920s.
• The company went public to fund a large studio development but lost money and closed.
• Tragically, all of Hepworth's original film negatives were melted down.

Pathe Freres (brothers)

Charles Pathé (1863-1957), French motion-picture magnate, who, in the early 20th century, was the first to create a system for mass-producing motion pictures.
Aladdin & the Magic Lamp (1907)
The Policeman's Little Run (1907)
Slippery Jim (1910) directed by Ferdinand Zecca
Onesime Horloger (Onesime, Clock-Maker) (1912)

• Pathé began his career as an importer and merchant of the phonograph in France.
• He extended the business to include projectors and films, creating the company Pathé Frères in 1896.
• By 1901 he concentrated on film production, together with French director and producer Ferdinand Zecca.
• Pathé made films rapidly and reinvested the profits back into the business to improve the technical quality of his films.
• By 1905 the company was employing numerous production teams of scriptwriters, set builders, cameramen, directors, and actors, making short films in an assembly-line process.
• Pathe Company opened in New York in 1904 as a subsidiary of Pathe Freres (Bros.) in France and boasted a catalogue of 12,000 titles.
• In 1909, Pathe was asked to join Edison in forming the Motion Picture Patents Company to try to shut out smaller studios.
• In 1911, Pathe issued Pathe Weekly which was the first US newsreel.
• The upcoming of WWI took its toll on the company. Pathe ceased production in the US in 1914.
• In 1915, the Pathe Freres temporarily moved its headquarters to New York and changed its name to Pathe Exchange, Inc.
• In 1923, Pathe Exchange sold for 26 million Francs and came under the control of Merrill Lynch.
• In 1926, Joe Kennedy buys controlling interest in Pathe Exchange, and soon becomes president and a director.
• In 1930, Pathe Exchange merges with PDC, K-A-O and DeMille to become RKO

We are waiting for slow groups to complete their projects. Complete your film projects and save as MP4's to your desktop. Make sure you have provided a title with your name on it and include credits at the end of your film. If you took any film footage or photographs from the internet, you should indicate from where and whose work you are borrowing. From your desktop we will transfer the files. Any project not turned in today will be considered late.

Other films of the early 20th century:
Joan D'Arc (1900)
Frankenstein (Edison) (1910)
Wizard of Oz (1910)

HOMEWORK: Please read the handout: D.W. Griffith "The Birth of a Nation", The Edison Monopoly, and The Hollywood Studio System for Thursday. Please take notes about D.W. Griffith & his contributions to film, note how the formation of the Motion Picture Patents Company led to the formation of Hollywood Studios and the major innovations caused by this event.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Edwin S. Porter & George Melies

Today we will screen the following films:

THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY (1903), Directed by Edwin S. Porter
DREAM OF A RAREBIT FIEND (1906), Directed by Edwin S. Porter
A TRIP TO THE MOON (1902), Directed by George Melies

Please complete your film projects today.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Film Invention Show & Tell; Edwin S. Porter & George Melies

Today 1st period, we will continue to work on our film projects. You will want to complete these (with Voice Over & completed script) by Friday.

2nd period we will be moving to room 175 to discuss Film Invention and to screen Edwin S. Porter's "The Great Train Robbery" & Melies' "A Trip to the Moon." Please bring your journals with you to take notes.

Playwrights', please hand in a note card with your actor requests by the end of class.

HOMEWORK: Please finish reading the handout from last class concerning Melies & Porter if you have not done so yet.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Early Pioneers Project (day 2), & a Few Early Films

Congratulations: Khari, Kennethea, Wade, & Nautica. Your plays will be produced in the Playwrights' Festival this year. Auditions are today and tomorrow in the black box after school.

Please continue to work on your Early Pioneers Project. You should try to complete the project today in class. Please be aware there may be groups trying to conduct Voice Overs (VO) during class. Keep noise to a minimum, please.

Edison Manufacturing Company (directed by Edwin S. Porter): Gordon Sisters Boxing (1900)
Uncle Josh in a Spooky Hotel
Uncle Josh at the Moving Picture Show (1903)
Faust (1900)
The Life of an American Fireman (1903)
Dream of a Rarebit Fiend (1903)

HOMEWORK: Please read: Melies & Edwin S. Porter in the handout given to you today. Take notes in your journal/notebook about relevant or interesting points in the article. Also, any questions you may have, please record and ask in class.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Early Film Pioneers: Project

In groups of 1 or 2 please select one of the following pioneering filmmakers. Research this filmmaker, take notes in your notebook about what the artist did that was important to film history, provide basic biographical information, and discuss the artist's work in general. You should write out a VO (Voice Over) script of no longer than 1 page for your narration.

You may select from:

Thomas Edison
W.K.L. Dickson
The Lumiere Brothers
Charles Pathe
Birt Acres
R.W. Paul
George Melies
Cecil Hepworth
Edwin S. Porter
Leon Gaumont
Alice Guy-Blache
Mack Sennett
D. W. Griffith
Oscar Micheaux

Your project should use still photography (I suggest using the internet and save some JPGs to your desktop)--(you may also use film when and if available) Photography should be imported into iMovie. Your short film should run no more than a minute. Use titles, play with editing and transition effects, and use a voice-over. Provide end and title credits with your name(s) displayed.

Important Film Historical Dates

Early film was little more than the thrill of capturing "real life." Finally, through technology, photographers were able to depict reality in a way never before possible. This had many uses. For one, it allowed people to witness strange or exotic locations, cultures, or people. Now someone who lived in New York City didn't have to spend a month on a steamer boat to visit far-away-lands. Presidents could be seen without having to campaign in your home town. Life could be seen as it really was. These slices of life are documentaries in the strictest sense. These "actualities" are little more than moving snapshots. Note there is no plot or character development--just real life.

Watch a few more films, these from the early 1900's, and take notes. What do you notice about the films? What subject matter do they deal with?

Native Americans
The inauguration of President McKinley (1901)
Moscow Clad in Snow (1906)
Skyscrapers of New York (1903)
Statue of Liberty (1898)

Lumiere Brothers

Lion, London Zoological Gardens (Lumiere Bros) (1895)
Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (Lumiere Bros) (1895)
Arab Cortege (Lumiere Bros) (1896)
The Sprinkler Sprinkled (Lumiere Bros) (1895)

The following are important events, inventions, and their inventors that helped create the film industry. We played with many of these devices in class. You should be familiar with them.

Magic Lantern: Invented in the 17th century by Athanasius Kircher. The magic lantern projected pictures on a screen.

Thaumatrope: Invented by Dr. John Ayrton Paris in 1824; utilized the theory of “persistence of vision”

Fantascope, Phenakistiscope (“spindle viewer”), Fanatoscope: invented by Belgian nventor Joseph Plateau. Daedalum (Horner 1834)/Zoetrope (Lincoln 1867)

Daguerreotype: Invented in 1839 by Louis-Jacques-Monde Daguerre. The process of capturing images on silvered, copper metal plates - the beginning of photography.

Celluloid: Invented in 1869 by John Wesley Hyatt. Strips of thin film which could be developed with pictures.

Praxinoscope: Invented in 1877 by Charles Emile Reynaud. A film projector. Here is one of his animated films if you haven't noticed them from previous posts yet.Emile Reynaud: pauvre pierre animation (1892)

Light Bulb: Invented by Thomas Edison in 1879.

One of the first pioneers of “film” was the artist/inventor Eadweard Muybridge: 1830 - 1904. He used several cameras to take a sequence of shots Film was cut into strips and used in a praxinoscope. Muybridge invented his Zoopraxiscope, photos printed on a glass disc that rotated, to create the illusion of moving images. Here's what the first Zoopraxiscope clip looked like.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Plethora of Old Films from the 1800's

Kinetoscope films: Madison & State, Chicago.
Sheep Run
Bucking Bronco
Pillow Fight
Annie Oakley

Lumiere Bros: The Sprinkler Sprinkled no.99
Arrival of a Train at Ciotat
Various actualities (documentaries)

Please take a look at this film as a model for your own project. The History of Early Film.

100 Best Films Essay due; The origins of Film

Please take the first period to complete your personal essays. Once you are done, please hand in and continue to examine the following:

Early Technology & Inventors:

Please read and research film technology. It is important to understand the technological history of film as an art form, for it shapes our culture and has become such an important element of our lives.

Find out the following (to write down in your film journal as participation credit):
1. What is a Zoetrope? How did it work? Who invented it and why?
2. What is a praxinoscope? How did it work? Who invented it? Watch this clip.
3. What is a kinetoscope? How did it work? Who invented it?
4. What is a cinematographe? Who invented it?
5. What is a mutoscope? How did it work? Who invented it?
6. What is a vitascope? How did it work? Who invented it?

then visit the FILM HISTORY website. Find out the following:

7. What was a magic lantern? Who invented it and when?
8. What was a thaumatrope? Who invented it?
9. What invention did Joseph Plateau invent? How did it work?
10. Who invented celluloid?
11. Who was Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904)? How and why is he important to the history of film?
12. Who claimed to be the "inventor of film"? Why?
13. Explain Thomas Edison and William K.L. Dickson's contribution to film history.
14. What was Thomas Edison's studio's name? Where was it located?
15. Name a few titles of the earliest films.

These questions should be completed by the end of class today. If you have completed this assignment, please watch a few early films:
The Kiss (1900)
Serpentine Dances (1895)
Sando the Strongman and other Edison Films (repeats of Serpentine Dances & the Kiss)

Dickson's Experimental Film (1894)

Lumiere Brothers Films
Falling Cat (1890)
Two Fencers (1891)
Emile Reynaud: pauvre pierre animation (1892)
Emile Reynaud: autour d'une cabine (1894)
Turkish Dance (1898)

HOMEWORK: After watching these clips, please make some comments about what you've noticed in your journal. We will discuss this next class.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Best 100 Films of All Time: a personal essay

After our quiz, please complete the following class activity. This activity is due at the end of class. You may start it after you finish the vocabulary quiz. Notes should be kept in your JOURNAL/NOTEBOOK for film studies.

The BEST 100 Films of All Time - A Personal Response by YOU!

Please go to the link (on the left side of this article): Film History.

For our class, this website by film historian Tim Dirks, will provide you with a lot of excellent information. We will be using the link throughout our course as a reliable source of information.

Today, I'd like you to spend some time reviewing the top 100 movies of all time. Please read Dirk's information, take a look through the list and note the following:

1. Which films on this list have you personally seen? (jot down a few titles in your journal)
2. Which films on this list have you heard about, but never had the chance to see? (jot down a few titles)
3. If a movie looks interesting to you, please jot down its title in your journal.

After reading through the list, make some personal observations. How "literate" are you when it comes to "best" or top films of all time? Does there seem to be a pattern or genre bias in this list? How does our own culture, socio-economic status, gender, or age affect the way we approach films? Were you surprised to see these films on this list? If you were to write this list, what movies would you put on it that were not included (feel free to indicate your top ten favorites of all time)?

After answering the questions above, write a short personal essay (1-3 pages, double spaced) examining these questions from your point of view (due at the end of class).

If you finish early today, please take a look at these websites: (this is the international movie data base, and can be very helpful to you in this course).

Metacritic (a website where you can find all sorts of film reviews for models regarding how to write a film review--and for your own enjoyment)

The Internet Script database. This site publishes many contemporary film scripts. It will be important to check your film script formatting and go here to read scripts. Many of the clips we will be watching in this class come from sites like

HOMEWORK: Please read the article "The Birth of Film" - Highlight and take notes in your notebook about important key concepts you found in the article. Label this as "The Birth of Film" in your journal. On Monday we will go over this information as a class and begin a film project.

The Murky Middle (Even More Advice)

Aristotle wrote that stories should have a beginning, middle, and end. Middles can be difficult. You might have a smashing opening to a stor...