100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

Keystone Studios Founded In California

Mack Sennett was born Mikall Sinnott in Danville, Quebec, Canada in 1880. When he was 17 years old his family moved to Connecticut. Sennett first got the idea to go on stage after seeing a vaudeville show. He became an actor, singer, dancer, clown, set designer. He was attracted to the early movies and started working for the New York film studio Biograph Company.

Mack Sennett

In 1908 in order to to bring stability to the patent wars and litigation the Edison Film Manufacturing Company, the Biograph company, and the 7 other east coast motion picture studios ended their competitive feuding in favor of a cooperative system that provided industry domination and formed the Motion Picture Patents Company known as The Film Trust. By pooling their interests, the member companies legally monopolized the business, and demanded licensing fees from all film producers, distributors, and exhibitors for cameras and projectors, which were all made by Edison. Either you did what the Film Trust wanted or you could build your own cameras, developers, and projectors.

Unlicensed outlaws and “independents” carried on business without submitting to the Edison monopoly using illegal equipment and importing film stock to create their own underground market. The Motion Picture Patents Company would file suit to confiscated unlicensed equipment, discontinued product supply to theaters which showed unlicensed films, and effectively monopolized distribution with the acquisition of all US film exchanges. The rebel film studios started looking elsewhere to avoid the Film Trust and have moved all the way across the country to California (where the nice weather allows a longer filming season) and opened studios is small southern California towns like Edendale and Hollywood.

On August 12, 1912 with financial backing from Adam Kessel and Charles O Bauman of the New York Motion Picture Company, Mack Sennett founded Keystone Studios in Edendale, California. While at Biograph Sennett met actress Mabel Normand and made successful comedies with her. He plans to use her at Keystone.

Mabel Normand

Keystone Studios logo




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