At the beginning of the 19th century, the French created the daguerreotype, a device that allowed images to be fixed on a surface, this being the beginning of photography. Then in 1872 an Englishman named Muybridge was hired by Leland Stanford, a California industrialist, to take photos of a galloping horse. Muybridge achieved the goal after 5 years of work, using 50 cameras along the animal’s path.
The result was a series of images that, in short, became the beginning of cinema. Some time later, in the laboratories of Thomas Alva Edison, it was possible to create a light-sensitive substance capable of capturing successive images like those of the horse but with a single camera, the discovery was the work of an Englishman, William Kennedy Laurie Dickson, who created the kinetograph, the first film camera.
They also installed the first film studio known as “Black María” which consisted of a small room with a movable roof that allowed the use of sunlight inside the place.
The film, celluloid (cellulose nitrate) was invented in 1869 by George Eastman (creator of Kodak) and began to be applied in 1885. Eastman granted Edison exclusive use of perforated celluloid. Five years later the first film is shot “Fred Ott’s sneeze”, Edison’s team mechanic and therefore the first movie star in history. See topschoolsintheusa for LSAT test centers in California.
Two paradoxes, on the one hand Edison was obsessed with recording sound more than recording images, however he was deaf, on the other hand he only recorded the kinetographer only in the United States and not abroad. As a consequence of the latter, 2 years later the Lumiere brothers adapted Edison’s invention and patented it as their own. And the famous performance in 1895 at number 14 boulevard des Capulines, the Grand Café in Paris.
Meanwhile Edison busied himself with building better equipment and accessories, registered several patents, and ultimately tried to create a monopoly on the devices used to film and project cinema. Then a new group of North American businessmen was formed, these pioneers of the second stage occupied a dark corner in history.
In 1912 the cinema was incorporated into the copyright legislation, before this, 17 production companies were registered, including those of: Edison, American Mutoscope & Biograph, Eclair, Lubin, Selig, Vitagraph and Worlds. In the past, films had no property rights Instead, it was necessary to record frame by frame, which made the task almost impossible. There was also plagiarism between production companies and fragments of films were stolen, so Pathé decided to include the rooster logo in certain fragments of the productions.
Edison was very annoyed with the appearance of this competition, even filed a lawsuit against several of them, invoking the patents of equipment and the monopoly of use of the films of Eastman. But from now on the cinema ceased to be a monopoly, allowing it to be produced by those who wanted to take the risks of making a film, as is the case today.
The changes were rapid and dizzying, the first film entrepreneurs were the owners of theaters that used the cinema as a complement to plays. Films were bought, exchanged between theaters, and destroyed when they saw that commercial potential was exhausted. They would soon discover that what is unique about cinema is that, unlike other industries, these products are not consumed and disappear, but are magically multiplied with numerous copies.
Distribution companies were created, which bought films, then offered them to theaters and interfered when conflicts of interest arose between them. The Production-Distribution-Exhibition chain was institutionalized, the projection was carried out in rooms baptized with the name “nickelodeon” (this because the entrance cost a nickel or 5 cents of a dollar).
The cinema became in the United States a very popular spectacle, suitable for the masses, including humble and illiterate people, it became an easily accessible medium for recently arrived immigrants who hardly knew the language, did not speak or read English, They were mainly from Russia, Hungary and Poland, then over time these immigrants would become film entrepreneurs.
The relationship between producers, distributors and theaters was governed by the principles of capitalism (supply-demand), this determined the films to be shown, quality and quantity of the material, number of theaters, purchase and rental prices, permanence on the bill or projection cities.
The nickelodeon business was reaching, nothing more and nothing less than an average of 14 million viewers per week. Edison’s group decided to partner with Biograph, Vitagraph, Lubin, Selig, Essanay, Kalem, George Kleine and the French Pathé and Méliés. Together they formed the MPPC (Motion Picture Patent Company) in order to create an oligopoly of the film industry and concentrate the profits, they canceled the lawsuits between themselves, and established a strict regime by which producers and exhibitors had to pay rights for the use of equipment. and screening of films.
The workhorse they had was Eastman-Kodak’s exclusive perforated celluloid patent. The MPPC became a trust, had inspectors in all cities and resorted to the police and justice to enforce their patents.
Despite the power of the MPPC, the resistance did not wait, the exhibitor Carl Laemmle decided to challenge the oligopoly / monopoly, bringing films from Europe and sponsoring the exhibition of independents, thus the IMP (Independent Motion Picture Film Company) was born, which with the time would transform into UNIVERSAL PICTURES. This mortally wounded the trust.
The so-called “patent war” resulted in the creation of new companies that would film in an unknown city called Hollywood, far from the reach of the MPPC. Thus, many theater owners and distributors turned to the production of films to be able to feed commercial circuits without the approval of Edison and company, among them we can name: Adolph Zukor, William Fox, Louis Mayer, Jesse Lasky, Harry Cohn, Sam Goldfish ( Goldwyn) and the Warner brothers, among them there were also countless internal fights, the truth is that they gave rise to companies such as Universal, Fox Films, Metro Goldwyn Mayer, Paramount or Warner Brothers that with the passing of the years they would be the protagonists of the industry. On the other hand, Edison and associates of the trust gradually ceased to exist or were absorbed.
The list of Hollywood pioneers also includes Carl Laemmle, Harry Cohn, Jesse Lasky, Louis B. Mayer, Marcus Loew, the Schenck brothers, BP Schulberg, Lewis Selznick, Spyros Skouras, Irving Thalberg, Darry F. Zanuck etc. Almost all immigrants from European Jewish families, almost all from very humble origins.
They were the protagonists of associations, poker and pleasure nights, parties that lasted a whole weekend, internal fights, but they also discovered stars, they promoted young directors, screenwriters and technicians. They were the forerunners of the industry giving free rein to dreams. All these pioneers had to tolerate that the public began to venerate the stars that they themselves had created, leaving the producers in oblivion.