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How Hollywood Started When Independent Filmmakers Moved to California In The 1910s To Escape Thomas Edison's Monopoly


Before 1915, Los Angeles was just a desert, but Karl Lemmel and a small group of like-minded independent film distributors believed that its vast, inexpensive space and matchless light made it the perfect place to build a film studio. It was also thousands of miles from Thomas Edison and his Menlo Park laboratory. Why would he talk? Well ...

Thomas Edison: Movie Maverick?

By the dawn of the 20th century, Thomas Edison held more than 1,000 patents, and became as adept at protecting them as he was at identifying and exploiting talent. He owned several patents for the production and presentation of films, such as motion pictures and motion picture cameras called an early film projector, but not all of them, and instead purchased the remaining patents to complete his megalomaniac bingo card, Formed a group with other patent holders called the Motion Picture Patent Company. If you wanted to make or show a film, you would have to go through them.

Karl Lemmel in 1918.

Meanwhile in Chicago

Carl Lemmel is a true American success story. He emigrated from Germany to the United States in 1884 and spent the next 20 years working in Chicago. Then, "one rainy night," he recalled, "I dropped into one of those holes in a five-cent motion picture theater." The film "made [him] laugh," but more importantly, she can help but notice that it made everyone in the theater laugh, too. "I just knew that I wanted to get into the motion picture business."

In 1906, Lemmel worked together for all of his family's savings, $ 3,000, and put it all into what he called "Chicago's quietest theater," meaning that in 1906 it was well ventilated. The venture was so successful that Lamel bought another theater and then decided to make his own films. That's when he surpassed Thomas Edison.

Florence Lawrence, c. 1908

Crossing Edison

To make films, Lamel had to find actors, but most of the known actors of the day were signed with biographical illustrations of Edison ruled by Menlo Park wizard with an iron fist. He kept his actors from becoming well known by keeping them under his thumb — for example, by crediting her as "The Biograph Girl" completely ruined the name Florence Lawrence — and she insisted Said that his films, which he cautiously retained for 20 minutes, should be strictly educational and historical to the attention span of the audience.

Lammele didn't care for anything about him, so he offered Lawrence one thing Edison couldn't do: name recognition. After stealing Addison's lead actress, LaMalle bought film stock and equipment from overseas, completely ignoring the 289 infringement lawsuits that Edison threw her way, and set out to make her fortune. To keep Edison's lawyers at bay, LaMalle and his friends, known as "independents" (though they became known as some of Hollywood's biggest film studios, such as Warner Bros. and Paramount), West Went to, where no one found them. . Even if they did, cross-country travel was prohibitively expensive at the time, and Edison's name did not weigh nearly as much on the West Coast. In 1914, Lemley bought 230 acres in the San Fernando Valley for $ 165,000 and began building Universal Studios.

Universal Studios, 2014.

Edison Beating His Game

The next year was a historic year for Lamel: he finished his studio and eventually took the law into his own hands. He and William Fox (who later founded 20th Century Fox) filed antitrust lawsuits against Edison, winning the legal battle for the future of the film once and for all. Edison was certain that audiences would keep coming in for his films, but he drowned in favor of longer and more entertaining productions of independents. The turn of events greatly affected Edison. He even accepted an invitation for Lamle's dedication to the new state-of-the-art studio where the inventor did what he did at a red carpet event: smile, step, repeat.

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