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Matt Barry
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 12:27 am    Post subject: Silent film studio locations?
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During the silent era, what cities had regular studios that were producing
films, besides Los Angeles and New York (also Fort Lee, NJ early on)? I know
that Essanay was based out of Chicago, and there was the short comedy
studio, Vim, located in Florida (where Oliver Hardy got his start). Were
there other cities that were the home of film studios during the silent era?

It seems that with the coming of sound, things got much more centralized to
Los Angeles (and Queens, New York for Paramount's Astoria Studio). The only
other studio I can think of during the 30s that was located outside of LA or
NY was Max Fleischer's animation studio in Florida.

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Matt Barry
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Jeff
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 12:27 am    Post subject: Re: Silent film studio locations? [Login to view extended thread Info.]
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Chicago was a larger film center than L.A. for the first decade of the
1900's. The other major company in town besides Essanay was the Selig
Polyscope Co., which opened the first permanent studio in L.A. in 1909.
Selig also had a studio in New Orleans, plus many smaller satellite
studios throughout the U.S. Tom Mix did some of his first work for
Selig Polyscope in Jacksonville, FL.
Jeff Look

Matt Barry wrote:
> During the silent era, what cities had regular studios that were producing
> films, besides Los Angeles and New York (also Fort Lee, NJ early on)? I know
> that Essanay was based out of Chicago, and there was the short comedy
> studio, Vim, located in Florida (where Oliver Hardy got his start). Were
> there other cities that were the home of film studios during the silent era?
>
> It seems that with the coming of sound, things got much more centralized to
> Los Angeles (and Queens, New York for Paramount's Astoria Studio). The only
> other studio I can think of during the 30s that was located outside of LA or
> NY was Max Fleischer's animation studio in Florida.
>
> --
> Matt Barry
> Visit my pages at:
> http://mbarry84.tripod.com
> http://filmreel.blogspot.com
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Ed Hulse
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Since: Dec 14, 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 12:27 am    Post subject: Re: Silent film studio locations? [Login to view extended thread Info.]
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Don't forget Santa Barbara, a real hotbed of cinematic activity in the
pre-1920 period. The American Film Company maintained its corporate
headquarters in Chicago, but I believe all (or nearly all) of the
"Flying A" films were made in Santa Barbara after 1912 or so.
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rodney
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Since: Aug 15, 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 12:27 am    Post subject: Re: Silent film studio locations? [Login to view extended thread Info.]
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Jeff wrote:
> Chicago was a larger film center than L.A. for the first decade of the
> 1900's. The other major company in town besides Essanay was the Selig
> Polyscope Co., which opened the first permanent studio in L.A. in 1909.
> Selig also had a studio in New Orleans, plus many smaller satellite
> studios throughout the U.S. Tom Mix did some of his first work for
> Selig Polyscope in Jacksonville, FL.
> Jeff Look

And Colorado Springs had an active studio making (not surprisingly)
Westerns. Tom Mix shows up in some of the films made there as well.

Rodney
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ReelDrew
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Since: Apr 26, 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 12:27 am    Post subject: Re: Silent film studio locations? [Login to view extended thread Info.]
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Matt Barry wrote:
> During the silent era, what cities had regular studios that were producing
> films, besides Los Angeles and New York (also Fort Lee, NJ early on)? I know
> that Essanay was based out of Chicago, and there was the short comedy
> studio, Vim, located in Florida (where Oliver Hardy got his start). Were
> there other cities that were the home of film studios during the silent era?
>

There were film studios all over the United States in the silent era,
especially during the 1910s, besides the two largest centers of
production in Los Angeles County (aka Hollywood) and the New York City
metropolitan area which, as far as film production is concerned,
extended into Fort Lee and Jersey City in New Jersey and north of NYC
proper into Mamaroneck (Griffith's studio in the '20s) and New
Rochelle, NY (home of the Thanhouser studio). Probably the third
largest center of production during the 1910s was the Jacksonville--St.
Augustine, Florida region where most of the US companies had studios at
one time. Indeed, for several years, Jacksonville overshadowed Los
Angeles as the favored alternative center of production for companies
seeking to escape the harsh Northern winters. Unfortunately for the
local film industry, many Jacksonville residents had come to find their
activities in filming on location disruptive. The result was that a
mayor unsympathetic to the film industry was elected in 1917. Within a
year or so, the companies located in Jacksonville and a smaller number
of studios in St. Augustine 40 miles to the south departed for other
areas of the country, including, of course, California.

As mentioned in a previous post, Chicago was another major center of
early film production. Philadelphia, home of the Lubin company, was
still another. I'm sure this is by no means a complete list, but here
are some other film-producing cities in the silent era that come to
mind:
Ithaca, New York--This upstate community was a leading production
center from 1912 to 1920, thanks to the Wharton Brothers, Theodore and
Leopold, who made a number of notable serials and features there;
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania--A studio here produced films in the
1910s, including a 1917 series of comedy shorts with Leatrice Joy and
the celebrated 1919 serial, "A Woman in Gray," starring Arline Pretty;
San Antonio, Texas--Gaston Melies, Georges' brother, established a
studio here in the early 1910s;
Tuscon, Arizona--The Eclair company had a studio here in the 1910s;
Colorado Springs--This has already been mentioned in a post;
New Orleans--The NOLA company built a short-lived studio here in 1915
which gave Leatrice Joy her first film experience and was apparently
the city's only local film company in the silent era;
Portland, Oregon--A company by the name of American Lifeograph was
established here in the late 1910s and in 1919 employed Jean Hersholt,
mainly as a director;
Spokane, Washington--A studio was built here in the late 1910s,
ultimately leading to the construction of another studio at:
Priest Lake, Idaho, in the early 1920s, where Nell Shipman produced a
number of outstanding films.
And in other parts of California, there were, as mentioned, the
American company, as well as other studios, in Santa Barbara; and San
Diego, which hosted Lubin's West Coast studio in the mid-1910s, and
near-by El Cajon, where the American company had their first West Coast
studio. 400 miles to the north of Los Angeles, there was the famous
Essanay studio in Niles and, across the Bay, the California Motion
Picture Company in San Rafael, both in the 1910s. In the 1920s, there
were two local studios in the SF Bay Area, the Montague (Gerson) studio
in San Francisco itself, where Frank Capra directed for the first time,
and the Pacific (Peninsula) studio in San Mateo, which had earlier been
the site of a comedy short producer in the 1910s.
This is only a partial list, done more or less from memory. I'm
pretty certain there were some studios in the silent era located in
several New England states, a studio in St. Louis, and another in
Oklahoma, for example. And in those years there were any number of
attempts at building local studios in parts of the US that never really
got off the ground. There has been quite a lot of research into these
studios in recent years which is filling in the gaps in our knowledge
of this period. I will be interested in seeing posts from others at
a.m.s. who may have additional knowledge of this, including a more
complete list than I have about all the studios built across the United
States in the silent period.

William M. Drew
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ReelDrew
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Since: Apr 26, 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 12:27 am    Post subject: Re: Silent film studio locations? [Login to view extended thread Info.]
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As I thought, there were indeed studios in the Northeast during the
silent era. An article on local silent film production in studios
based in Rhode Island can be read at:
http://www.film-festival.org/grcollfilm.htm Also, another article on
current preservation work by the Rhode Island Historical Society is at:
http://www.rihs.org/grcollfilm.htm

William M. Drew
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ReelDrew
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Since: Apr 26, 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 12:27 am    Post subject: Re: Silent film studio locations? [Login to view extended thread Info.]
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ReelDrew@aol.com wrote:
> As I thought, there were indeed studios in the Northeast during the
> silent era. An article on local silent film production in studios
> based in Rhode Island can be read at:
> http://www.film-festival.org/grcollfilm.htm Also, another article on
> current preservation work by the Rhode Island Historical Society is at:
> http://www.rihs.org/grcollfilm.htm
>
> William M. Drew

Correction: the URL for the first article is:
http://www.film-festival.org/FilmHistory.php

William M. Drew
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George Shelps
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Since: Jul 09, 2003
Posts: 1839



PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 1:57 am    Post subject: Re: Silent film studio locations? [Login to view extended thread Info.]
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William Drew wrote:

>As mentioned in a previous post,
>Chicago was another major center of
>early film production. Philadelphia, home
>of the Lubin company, was still another.

Lubin had an urban studio, with a roof-top
glass-enclosed stage, which survived untl
fairly recently in North Philadelphia and
his Betzwood Studio near Valley Forge
Historic Site. Two large cement film
vaults for storing nitrate still stand there as indestructible monuments
to the days when Philadelphia was a major production
center.

(Linda K. Woal is a paramount historian
of Philadelphia's Lubin Studio)
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Jeff
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Since: Oct 14, 2006
Posts: 4



PostPosted: Sun Nov 05, 2006 10:58 am    Post subject: Re: Silent film studio locations? [Login to view extended thread Info.]
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Lubin's studio sounds similiar to Selig's Chicago operations. It too
had a studio building with a vaulted glass roof, plus a smaller all
glass building built in 1907. Several of these buildings still exist,
the main studio now being a loft conversion. The glass roof, though, is
long gone. Selig's trademark "Diamond S" still stands over the main
entrance. This studio once occupied the entire city block bordered by
Irving Park Rd., Western Ave., Byron and Claremont Sts.

More than one article from that era states it was the largest studio in
the world. The interior of the studio grounds included a man-made lake
and many outdoor sets. There is still a rotting tower on top of one the
buildings, probably used for overhead camera angles. Selig's studio
contained film processing buildings, several of which today serve as
an used car lot. There are also underground tunnels which connect these
buildings, probably used in Chicago's fridgid winters.

Essanay's studio building is now home to St. Augustine College.

Jeff Look
George Shelps wrote:
> William Drew wrote:
>
> >As mentioned in a previous post,
> >Chicago was another major center of
> >early film production. Philadelphia, home
> >of the Lubin company, was still another.
>
> Lubin had an urban studio, with a roof-top
> glass-enclosed stage, which survived untl
> fairly recently in North Philadelphia and
> his Betzwood Studio near Valley Forge
> Historic Site. Two large cement film
> vaults for storing nitrate still stand there as indestructible monuments
> to the days when Philadelphia was a major production
> center.
>
> (Linda K. Woal is a paramount historian
> of Philadelphia's Lubin Studio)
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hauber108
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Since: Nov 03, 2005
Posts: 258



PostPosted: Mon Nov 06, 2006 2:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Silent film studio locations? [Login to view extended thread Info.]
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Matt Barry wrote:
> During the silent era, what cities had regular studios that were producing
> films, besides Los Angeles and New York (also Fort Lee, NJ early on)? I know
> that Essanay was based out of Chicago, and there was the short comedy
> studio, Vim, located in Florida (where Oliver Hardy got his start). Were
> there other cities that were the home of film studios during the silent era?
>
> It seems that with the coming of sound, things got much more centralized to
> Los Angeles (and Queens, New York for Paramount's Astoria Studio). The only
> other studio I can think of during the 30s that was located outside of LA or
> NY was Max Fleischer's animation studio in Florida.
>
> --
> Matt Barry
> Visit my pages at:
> http://mbarry84.tripod.com
> http://filmreel.blogspot.com



In Northern California: Niles, California, where the Western Essanay
Studio was located from 1912-1916. Also the Paul Gerson studio in
Burlingame, where the Pop Tuttle comedies were produced and a number of
other independent productions.

Brent Walker
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