During Women’s History Month, join the ladies of Tree9 – Ria, Evann and Max – as we focus the lens on some of the amazing female trailblazers in the film industry:
Alice Guy-Blaché 1873-1968
Alice Guy-Blaché was a French pioneer filmmaker. She is generally considered to be the first filmmaker to systematically develop narrative filmmaking, and she was likely the only female director from 1896 to 1906. She utilized some of the very first special effects, including using double exposure, masking techniques, and running a film backwards.
In addition to filmmaking, Alice was also one the co-creators of The Solax Company, the largest pre-Hollywood film studio in America. Alice’s career in filmmaking spanned more than 25 years and involved directing, producing, writing and/or overseeing more than 700 films.
Mabel Normand 1892-1930
Mabel Normand was an American silent-film actress, screenwriter, director, and producer.At the height of her career in the late 1910s and early 1920s, she had her own movie studio and production company.
Mabel played a key role in launching Charlie Chaplin’s film career. She acted as his leading lady and mentor in a series of films in 1914, sometimes co-writing and directing, or co-directing the films with him.
In 2010, the New Zealand Film Archive discovered a print of Mabel Normand’s film Won in a Closet, a short comedy previously believed to be lost. Normand directed the movie and starred in the lead role, showcasing her talents on both sides of the camera.
Dorothy Arzner 1897-1979
Dorothy Emma Arzner was an American film director whose career in Hollywood spanned from the silent era of the 1920s, into the early 1940s. From 1927, until her retirement from directing in 1943, Arzner was the only female director working in the “Golden Age” of Hollywood.
Arzner trained in most aspects of filmmaking by working her way up from the bottom. She started in the industry as a stenographer, then moved to writer, to film-cutter, to script girl, to editor, to screenwriter, to assistant director, and then to her directorial debut: Fashions for Women. She later said this was “the best way to become a filmmaker.” In her career, she directed many powerful female stars, such as Katharine Hepburn, Joan Crawford and Lucille Ball.
While directing in 1929, Arzner had a rig created in which a microphone was attached to the end of a fishing rod. This enabled the actors to move around during filming, while still allowing level audio to be captured. In doing so, she created the very first boom mic, a staple in modern filmmaking.
These three examples are only a few of the intrepid women throughout history who have revolutionized the film industry and paved the way for generations to come. Thanks to the imagination and bravery of these determined ladies of the past, we can proudly bring you our contributions to the industry of film today.
What courageous woman in history inspires you?