William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson (1860–1935), who considered himself an inventor and regarded film production as a secondary avocation, headed the team that invented motion pictures at the Thomas Edison factory. Later, he cofounded what became the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company, the first American company devoted exclusively to film production. A truly international figure—born in France of Scottish-English and American parents, and educated there and in Germany—Dickson worked primarily in America and Britain, making hundreds of films over a dozen years and teaching many other cinema pioneers in the process. His best-known student, longtime D. W. Griffith cinematographer Billy Bitzer, called him “the granddad of us all.” As a special sidebar to To Save and Project, film scholar and archivist Paul Spehr presents much of Dickson’s surviving work, drawn from archives in America and Europe, placing him within the larger context of early film history.

Organized by Ronald S. Magliozzi, Assistant Curator, Department of Film.

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