Staffing an Early Moving Picture Works: Evidence from Paul’s and Hepworth’s Studios

< Program < PANEL NO. 6: Studio Labor and Organization

Almost everything we know about the organisation of early studios comes from anecdotal memoirs, all dating from long after the period, which are hardly likely to offer an objective overview. Studio photographs and early sales lists are, however, additional sources. Using these, this paper attempts to identify the main structures, processes and personnel involved in Paul’s Animatograph Works, a studio established in North London in 1898. Very few films survive from this period, but unusually detailed trade advertisements, and Paul’s distinctive illustrated catalogues from 1900, provide evidence of a highly organised enterprise – that drew on established theatrical techniques, but was also innovating in distinctively filmic forms, including multi-scene narrative from mid-1898 onwards.

Ian Christie (Birkbeck College, University of London)

Ian Christie is Professor of Film and Media History, Birkbeck College, University of London; also a vice-president of Domitor. His work on early British cinema and Robert Paul appeared in 2019 in an exhibition (currently at the National Science and Media Museum, Bradford), in the book Robert Paul and the Origins of British Cinema (Chicago University Press, 2019), and in the graphic novel Time Traveller, online here, and in a blog.