First described in conceptual terms by U.S. inventor Thomas Edison in 1888, the Kinetograph was developed by his employee William Kennedy Laurie Dickson between 1889 and 1892. The Kinetograph was motion picture camera that used rapid intermittent, or stop-and-go, film movement, to photograph movies for in-house experiments and, eventually, commercial Kinetoscope presentations.
Monkeyshines, No. 1 was shot by William K.L. Dickson and William Heise for the Edison labs. The film was shot either in June 1889 or in November 1890. The film stars either John Ott or G. Sacco Albanese. This film as well as the latter Monkey Shines, No. 2 (also seen in the video below) and Monkey Shines, No. 3 (which is lost to time) were all completed as test projects for the camera.
The films are the first real productions from the United States. Edison continued to develop and design film cameras and projectors over the next few years. What is most interesting about the Kinetograph and Kinetoscope is that Edison never sought an international patent and this allowed for inventors in other countries to develop their own film cameras.
We are jumping ten years after the Sallie Gardner horse stop motion film and since we are jumping ten years I figured I would mention three films which were made in 1888.
Louis Le Prince is an early inventor who created his own film cameras. In 1888 he made several films, some of which still remain today. The first filmed is called the Roundhay Garden Scene. It was filmed at Oakwood Grange, the home of Joseph and Sarah Whitley, in Roundhay, Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire, England on October 14, 1888. The film was recorded at 12 frames per second. This is currently the oldest surviving film shot from a single camera.
On October 24, 1888, ten days after being filmed in Roundhay Garden Scene, Sarah Robinson Whitley, who stars in the film and also Le Prince’s mother-in-law, died aged 72 and was buried nearby on October 27 at St. John’s Church, Roundhay, Leeds. On September 16, 1890, while about to patent his invention in London and to perform his first official public exhibition in New York, Louis Le Prince, director, mysteriously vanished in a train between Dijon and Paris. In 1902, two years after testifying in the Equity 6928 brief, Alphonse Le Prince, also shown in the film and elder son of the inventor, was found dead in New York. He had been murdered.
Thanks to the MAMO guys and their getting me to finally check out Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-And Rock ‘N Roll Generation Saved Hollywood. I have started to become even more interested in older films. The book focuses on the late 60s and 70s but thinking about the films from that generation made me start thinking about all the films from other generations that I have been negligent in discovering. My plan is to slowly rectify this by going year by year and picking one film which I have not seen and slowly over time watching it and then writing about it here on Row Three. This will not be a daily nor perhaps even weekly journey but as time permits I will visit each year in turn. Over the first few posts there will be some skipping of years up until the point when film was used to make movies.
On June 19th, 1878 at a Palo Alto Farm in California a horse by the name of Sallie Gardner was “filmed” using 24 stereoscopic cameras. Each of the cameras were lined up parallel to the path of a running horse. As the horse passed by each camera it hit trip wires which set the camera off. The moving film was done as an experiment and the film was shown using a device called the zoopraxiscope. The zoopraxiscope projected images from a rotating glass disk which basically used the stop motion technique of filming but with multiple cameras. This is not the first moving image but it seems like a good place to start, for the next film we are going to jump to 1888.