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Edwin Stanton Porter

By bjbartlett1 Sep 08, 2013 751 Words
Edwin Stanton Porter was born on April 21, 1870 in Pennsylvania. He had grown up with his parents Thomas Richard Porter and Mary Jane Clark. He had worked in the electrical field at first and began experiencing with electricity. He had worked with light bulb currents and telegraphs. In early 1890’s he had opened his own small business as a tailor, until 1893, when he had joined the Navy. He served there as an electrician and telegraph operator. With his help communications were improved. After a few years, he moved to Los Angeles California to work on film projects. He had heard about the vitascope, which was a projector that showed movies to a large audience of people on a screen. This was one of Thomas Edison’s inventions that Porter would soon improve. He started to experiment. In response he had made the system battery operated. This was just a small factor in his successes. In 1899 he had joined with the Edison Manufacturing Company.

“Life of an American Fireman” and “The Great Train Robbery,” are two famous films that Edwin S. Porter had directed in the early 1900’s. He was an American film director most known for his work with the Edison Company. Before the Edison Company he was a no name in the film making industry, but when he joined, he quickly moved to the top position. He was directing pieces, camerawork, and finalizing final drafts of projects. Edison’s company was unique, because they weren’t just scenes of everyday life. Their films were planned and narrative written. Porter started off directing comedy films and his work was different then others. He always found new ways to take old ideas and make them his own masterpiece. Since he knew how to entertain crowds in various ways he was able to become very successful. He had also developed a technique, which had made transitions smoother, known as dissolving. It was a great success in his movie “Life as a American Fireman,” since the movie involved intricate outdoor scenes. This dramatic heroic film was shot twice, with angles from the interior and exterior, as well as close up of actors faces. These were “complex” for that period of time.

His film “The Great Train Robbery,” was his biggest success when it was re-made to a 12 minute showing. This film had changed the way that movies would be made from here on out. It was based off of true story and involved four men who had robbed a train, stolen money and tried to escape. They go on extensive chase and the editing of the framework was more detailed then ever before. These techniques were used and made an impact on the “realist cinema.” One of the scenes had a gun pointing at the audience when he was about to fire. Audiences loved this, and were amazed by the intensity. He also had experimented in other editing processes to make the scenes flow in a better sequence and non-overlapping. “The Great Train Robbery,” was also known as the first movie categorized in the “western” films. A few short years later Porter was on the move again and created Rex Films. That didn’t last long because he was offered a position at another job, which he had accepted. He now was working for Adolph Zukor's Famous Player as a director general. Within the 3 years he was there, he had helped direct 5 pieces of film, which were all Mary Pickford films.

When Porter had left this business he had went back to the technical side of things and was president for The Precession Machine Corporation. He started off very well and things were looking good until the stock crash in 1929. He lost everything and decided to be done after that. He spent his last years of his life in New York City working on old machine parts to repair them.

Edwin Stanton Porter was very influential in the telecommunication and film industry. He had put a twist onto old ideas to make them unique and his own. Between his many jobs in the field, his films and techniques, he’ll never be forgotten.

Woks cited

Malt, Gerald and Kawin, Bruce F. A short History of the Movies. Pearson Education Inc 2009.

"Edwin Stratton Porter." Encyclopedia of World Biography. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. 24 Sep. 2011 .

"Edwin Stanton Porter." westminister.org. 10 October, 2009
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"Edwin S. Porter." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online Academic Edition. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. 25 Sep. 2011. .

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