Edwin S. Porter Essay

This essay has a total of 2034 words and 8 pages.

Edwin S. Porter

Edwin S. Porter was both a film pioneer and director. He was a film pioneer because he
made people come back to the theaters and start watching movies. His movies also were good
because they told a story by editing the move. Being a director he made some of the
greatest films in 1902 and 1903. In 1902 he directed The Life of an American Fireman and
in 1903 The Great Train Robbery. With these two skills he was able to direct great films
and use special camera shots not know of at that present time.


Porter was born on April 21st 1870 in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. There was not really
any information on his parents but they did his parents first named him Edward. Since he
was pudgy people use to call him Betty. There was really no information on why they called
him Betty but I am sure it meant something. In 1893 he joined United States Navy and
changed his name. He changed his name to Edwin Stanton instead of Edward Stanton. He
changed it after Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton before he went into
the Navy. They did not go into any detail on why he did it but my guess is he did not like
his name and changed it. In the resources that I found I could not find much information
about the rest of his family. I could not even find any information on what he did in his
early years. The earliest I could find was starting in 1893.



In 1895 he started to work for the Vitascope Marketing Company. He would use his talent of
electrical engineering with the company. With Vitascope he was in the project of the first
projected movie that was shown in New York. That date was April 23rd 1896. He used his
skills in engineering at Edison's Manufacturing Company's Laboratory. He let Edison for a
while and went to Eden Musee Theatre in New York where he an operator. He was in charge of
getting the films and projecting them onto the screen. His duties also were kind of
illegal because he took a lot of films and edited them together to make fifteen-minute
films. He would also take some of Melies films and put them into the show, since he like
some of Melies work. The films would range from historical Wars and news films. During
this time Porter also tried to create his own camera and projector but had no luck.


In 1900 the movies were losing their popularity and people were starting to stop coming to
the movies. A fire in his New York City work area also made him look for some new work. In
1900 he returned to Edison's Company to be a producer not an engineer. Edison was also
having problems with his company and almost had to sell it to American Mutoscope &
Biograph Company, his rival. After Edison hired Porter back he had him try to improve the
Kinetoscope projector. In New York City Edison built a glass top studio to produce films
with George S. Fleming. Edison was the person who would work as a cameraman and Fleming as
the scenic designer.



Since the movies were not selling out and the movie industry was getting bad, Edison had
went to producing only one-minute films which were viewed in the Kinetoscope Machine. The
Kinetoscope Machine was a device you looked into and watched the show. You would put a
penny in and crank the machine and you could watch it. The filmstrip was usually about 50
foot long or longer and you would crank it like a jack in the box to see it move. The work
that Porter did for Edison was not the mechanical part of it but the producer and
directing part. He was put in charge of making the film for the Kinetoscope so they could
make money that way. The Kinetoscope was a success for a while but then people were
getting sick of it. They wanted something new because they were getting sick of looking
through the hole and watching the film. Even when people started to get sick of it Edison
still produced some films for the Knetoscope.


People were starting to look into and experimenting with film projectors. They thought if
they could get it projected more people could come and see the film. If they did this more
people could pay money to see it and they would make more money. Edison invented a
projector years before but thought it would not help business. The though if he showed
films to a bunch of people at once it would hurt business. Since the only goal was to make
a profit he did not think it would be a good idea. The goal today is still to make money
but back then they really had to compete with all the other people trying to steal his
ideas. Since in the 1900's they were starting to lose the people from going to see films
so they had to do anything to stay in business.


Then other investors thought if they opened up small theaters they could get more people
to see the films. The movie theaters would show some of the Edison's Kinetoscope films to
the bunches of people. They would that small image that you seen on in the Kinetoscope
onto a big screen. After that Edison realized he could make money doing this he want to
get involved. He wanted to make the money because they were his films. Since a lot of
films were pirated back then they could not get them on the film. He went for the
projector that he invented earlier in the 1890's. He went to court and said that they used
his patents to make the projector and said that was not there design. He took them to
court and got had them shut down because they were using Edison's patent on the projector.
Edison stared to open up theaters to make money on projecting his films. He told Porter to
make longer films so that people would enjoy them. With his creativity he made to great
five minute long movies. They were Uncle Toms Cabin and Jack In The Beanstalk. Porter used
some of Melies trick in these movies, which made them great films for the audience. During
this time Porter was the only director to shoot at night in his "Pan-American Exposition
by Night". He also had help from Fleming, which did all of the scenery and set design.
Between Porter and Fleming, they use the best editing and set design known of at that
time. They worked well together and make some of the best films of the first films to be
projected for and audience.

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