Solax Film Studios (1910-1919)
Backstory and Context
One of the studio’s owners, Alice Guy Blaché, was born in Paris in 1873. She was educated in a convent and took work as a secretary for Léon Gaumont. She convinced him to give her a shot at directing, and she soon became the head of the Gaumont film unit in Paris. She resigned from her position after getting married, but Gaumont then placed the couple in charge of a Chronophone franchise in Cleveland, Ohio. The franchise did not last, but Herbert became manager of the Gaumont Studio in Flushing. After the studio failed, Alice Guy Blaché saw her chance to make her own films, and she took it. Solax Company was created in 1910 and relocated to Fort Lee in 1912.
Solax Company was successful for a few years before a number of factors brought it down. For one, the intertitles of Solax’s movies were often written in French, then translated into English. Some of these translations came across as awkward. There were also some notable differences between French and American tastes. Then, major studios were beginning to form an oligopoly, pushing foreign and independent studios, like Solax, out of the United States market. The added trouble of finding new distributors led the couple to change up their business. Solax was absorbed into Blaché Features, a new production company. It too fizzled out by World War I. Still, Solax studios is remembered as the home to the first woman movie director. One visitor to Solax praised the couple’s work, saying:
“It is not only the agreeableness of the place and of the people one meets there that one notices, but the smoothness and order with which the work is carried on.”
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Gledhill, Christine. Knight, Julia. Doing Women's Film History: Reframing Cinemas, Past and Future. Women and Film History International. Illinois. University of Illinois Press, 2015.
Abel, Richard. Encyclopedia of Early Cinema. New York. Routledge, 2005.
Alice Guy Blache,In Her Own Time, In Her Own Words. 11 East 14th Street. August 23, 2013. Accessed February 06, 2018. https://11east14thstreet.com/2013/08/23/alice-guy-blache-in-her-own-time-in-her-own-words/. Photo source.
Meyers, Tom. Birthday Wishes to Fort Lee's Alice Guy Blaché. Patch. June 25, 2012. Accessed February 06, 2018. https://patch.com/new-jersey/fortlee/bp--from-the-archives-birthday-wishes-to-fort-lees-al0b7e86733f. Photo source.