The Manufacture de films pour cinématographes, often known as the
Film Company,[a] was a French film production company run by the
illusionist and film director Georges Méliès.
2 American branch
2.2 Selected Filmography
Film logo (at left) on the set of Méliès's film The Man
with the Rubber Head
On 28 December 1895, Méliès attended the celebrated first public
demonstration of the Lumière Brothers' Kinetoscope. The event, held
in a room at 14 Boulevard des Capucines in Paris with one hundred
chairs and an entry price of ₣1, demonstrated the practicality of
film cameras and projectors. According to later recollections by
Méliès, he immediately approached
Antoine Lumière and offered to
buy a Lumière projector for his own experimentation; Lumière
refused. Méliès went on to make repeated offers, all similarly
turned down. Méliès next turned to the British film experimenter
Robert W. Paul, and in February 1896, obtained an Animatographe
projector for ₣1,000, along with a collection of short films, some
by Paul and some by Edison Studios. Méliès projected these for the
first time at his theater of illusions, the Théâtre Robert-Houdin,
in April 1896.
Film trademark on a title card for The Impossible Voyage
Meanwhile, having studied the principles on which Paul's projector
ran, Méliès designed a makeshift camera. With the help of a
mechanic, Lucien Korsten, he built it in the workshop of the theater,
using parts recycled from machines used in his illusions. On 2
September 1896, Méliès, Korsten, and an associate, Lucien Reulos,
obtained a patent on their work, christened the Kinétograph, and on 2
December Méliès created the Star
Film trademark, with the slogan
"The Whole World Within Reach."
The American branch of the company was managed by Méliès' older
Gaston Méliès and produced films in New York City, San
Texas and Santa Paula, California. Its most significant film
The Immortal Alamo
The Immortal Alamo (1911).
Georges Méliès had produced films in France, which had become
popular around the world. Some distributors began infringing Méliès'
work, especially in the United States. Méliès asked his brother
Gaston to go to the
United States and guard Méliès copyrights.
Gaston arrived in
New York City
New York City in 1902 and began distributing his
brother's films. By 1903, Gaston began making films himself, mostly
documentaries. The films were not successful. The company moved to San
Antonio looking for warmer winters and leased twenty acres including a
two-story house and large barn that became the "Star
Film Ranch" movie
Film Company was the earliest non-
company to operate in Texas.
The studio had actors Edith Storey, Francis Ford, and William Clifford
under contract along with writer Anne Nichols. The studio also hired
local ranchers and cowboys to give its Westerns genuine character. The
films were normally one reel in length with an average running time of
fifteen minutes. Of the seventy films made in San Antonio, only three
are known to have survived.
Film Company moved to
California in April 1911. Gaston
originally planned to relocate to Santa Barbara but chose Santa Paula
instead, perhaps because the scenery was better, or perhaps because it
was less expensive. In Santa Paula, he built stages across from a
resort called Sulphur Mountain Springs, where the troupe rented rooms.
Financially, things started going wrong for Gaston. His popular stars,
Edith Storey and William Clifford moved to other companies. His
California films were not as profitable as the
Texas films had been.
In November 1911, Gaston met with
Vitagraph Studios in New York and
sold fifty percent of his company, including his brothers negatives
and distribution rights.
On July 24, 1912 Gaston, his wife and a crew of fourteen left for a
Pacific and Asian voyage to make movies in exotic locales.
Documentaries and dramas were filmed at various locations such as
Tahiti, Bora Bora, New Zealand, Rarotonga, Australia, Java, Cambodia,
Japan, and others. The footage was sent to New York for processing,
but much of the footage arrived damaged because of the harsh
conditions in which the negatives were shot or mishandling in transit.
What was released met with an unappreciative audience and bad reviews
in the trade press.
Gaston stopped the tour in 1913 and settled in Corsica, where he died
two years later. Gaston's son Paul sold what was left of the company
Film Company in 1917. It was believed that "bad blood"
developed between the Méliès brothers, but recent research indicates
that despite losses in the American branch, Georges received all
payments he was entitled to.
The Kiss of Mary Jane (1911)
When the Tables Turned (1911)
The Immortal Alamo
The Immortal Alamo (1911)
Mary's Stratagem (1911)
In the Hot Lands (1911)
Salt on the Bird's Tail (1910)
The Yacht Race (1903)
A Trip to the Moon
A Trip to the Moon (1902)
^ Georges Méliès's studio was never officially designated the Star
Film Company, but for most of its existence the studio trademark
included the English words "Star Film." Thus, the phrase is widely
used to refer to the company.
^ a b Malthête, Jacques; Mannoni, Laurent (2008). L'oeuvre de Georges
Méliès. Paris: Éditions de La Martinière. p. 28.
^ a b c Frazer, John (1979). Artificially Arranged Scenes: The Films
of Georges Méliès. Boston: G. K. Hall & Co. pp. 33–35.
^ Hammond, Paul (1974). Marvellous Méliès. London: Gordon Fraser.
p. 30. ISBN 0900406380.
^ a b c Thompson, Frank (2002).
Texas Hollywood: Filmmaking in San
Antonio Since 1910. San Antonio: Maverick Publishing Company.
^ Slate, John H. (12 June 2010). "
Film Industry". The Handbook of
Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 12 February
^ a b c Thompson, Frank (1996). The Star
Film Ranch: Texas' First
Picture Show. Republic of
Texas Press. pp. 61–71.