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Edwin S. Porter

Edwin S. Porter

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Also Known As: Edwin Stanton Porter, Edwin Stanton Porter Died: April 30, 1941
Born: April 21, 1870 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Connellsville, Pennsylvania, USA Profession: filmmaker, projectionist, stagehand, telegraph operator, cashier, plumber, tailor, newspaper boy, painter

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Preeminent figure among early American filmmakers and one of the first to use techniques such as closeups and intercutting for narrative purposes. Porter was a projectionist, inventor and entrepreneur before starting work in 1900 for the Edison company, where he was soon promoted to head of film production. By 1901 he was making multi-shot films such as "The Execution of Czolgosz", a drama about the execution of US President McKinley's assassin which juxtaposed documentary footage of the prison with a staged dramatization of the execution itself.Porter's first major achievement was "The Life of an American Fireman" (1902), usually considered a landmark work thanks to its sophisticated editing techniques. The film cuts back and forth between the interior and exterior of a burning building in order to heighten dramatic effect, and is thus frequently cited as the first American use of editing in order to "drive" a narrative. (An alternative print of the film was recently discovered in which the exterior and interior scenes are juxtaposed as two continuous sequences, leading to speculation that the intercut version may have been a later development.)Porter is probably best known for "The Great Train...

Preeminent figure among early American filmmakers and one of the first to use techniques such as closeups and intercutting for narrative purposes. Porter was a projectionist, inventor and entrepreneur before starting work in 1900 for the Edison company, where he was soon promoted to head of film production. By 1901 he was making multi-shot films such as "The Execution of Czolgosz", a drama about the execution of US President McKinley's assassin which juxtaposed documentary footage of the prison with a staged dramatization of the execution itself.

Porter's first major achievement was "The Life of an American Fireman" (1902), usually considered a landmark work thanks to its sophisticated editing techniques. The film cuts back and forth between the interior and exterior of a burning building in order to heighten dramatic effect, and is thus frequently cited as the first American use of editing in order to "drive" a narrative. (An alternative print of the film was recently discovered in which the exterior and interior scenes are juxtaposed as two continuous sequences, leading to speculation that the intercut version may have been a later development.)

Porter is probably best known for "The Great Train Robbery" (1903), a sophisticated, 12-minute narrative broken up into separate scenes and using camera movement and continuity editing to advance the story. His last important contribution to film was to give an unknown actor and playwright named David Wark Griffith his debut role in the 1907 production, "Rescued from an Eagle's Nest". Porter formed his own company, Rex Films, in 1911, but soon afterward went to work for Famous Players. There he directed several competent but unexceptional features as well as experimenting with various aspects of the filmic process.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Zaza (1915) Director
2.
  The Eternal City (1915) Director
3.
  The White Pearl (1915) Director
4.
  Niobe (1915) Director
5.
  Lydia Gilmore (1915) Director
6.
  The Morals of Marcus (1915) Director
7.
  When We Were Twenty-One (1915) Director
8.
9.
  Bella Donna (1915) Director
10.
  Sold (1915) Director

CAST: (feature film)

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Milestones close milestones

1896:
Helped set up the first screening of projected motion pictures at New York's Koster & Bial's Music Hall
1897:
Exhibited Edison films and tried to sell the primitive Projectoscope to countries in South America and the West Indies (date approxcimate)
1899:
First known directorial effort, "The American Cup Race"
1902:
First notable work, "The Life of An American Fireman"
1903:
Directed the seminal, "The Great Train Robbery"
1912:
Appointed director general of Famous Players in Famous Plays, the production company that was forerunner to Paramount (date approximate)
1916:
Last directorial credit, "Lydia Gilmore"
:
Became president of Precision Machine Corporation, manufacturer of Simplex projector
1929:
Lost most of his money in stock market crash
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Notes

There was a 1983 documentary about Porter called "Before the Nickelodeon: The Early Cinema of Edwin S Porter", narrated by Blanche Sweet

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