Fred J. Balshofer

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Fred J. Balshofer
Fred J Balshofer.JPG
Who's Who in the Film World, 1914
Born(1877-11-02)November 2, 1877
New York City
DiedJune 21, 1969(1969-06-21) (aged 91)
Resting place Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery
Occupation Cinematographer

Fred J. Balshofer (November 2, 1877 – June 21, 1969) was a pioneering silent film director, producer, screenwriter, and cinematographer in the United States.

Silent film Film with no synchronized recorded dialogue

A silent film is a film with no synchronized recorded sound. In silent films for entertainment, the plot may be conveyed by the use of title cards, written indications of the plot and key dialogue lines. The idea of combining motion pictures with recorded sound is nearly as old as film itself, but because of the technical challenges involved, the introduction of synchronized dialogue became practical only in the late 1920s with the perfection of the Audion amplifier tube and the advent of the Vitaphone system.

Cinematographer chief over the camera and lighting crews working on a film

A cinematographer or director of photography is the chief over the camera and light crews working on a film, television production or other live action piece and is responsible for making artistic and technical decisions related to the image. The study and practice of this field is referred to as cinematography.



Balshofer was born in New York City and became interested in the photography business at an early age. He eventually worked as a stereoscopic-slide photographer and was drawn to the fledgling motion picture business. From 1905 to 1908, he worked at Lubin Studios in Philadelphia. In 1909 he was hired by Adam Kessel of the New York Motion Picture Company and directed his first film, "Disinherited Son's Loyalty", on which he also served as cinematographer. That same year he directed Davy Crockett – In Hearts United , believed to be the first Davy Crockett movie ever made. Filming at the time centered mainly around facilities and locations in the Fort Lee, New Jersey area but within a few years Balshofer moved to the West Coast as General Manager of the New York Motion Picture Company, directing western films for their subsidiary, Bison Motion Pictures until Thomas H. Ince joined the studio.

Photography Art, science and practice of creating durable images by recording light or other electromagnetic radiation

Photography is the art, application and practice of creating durable images by recording light or other electromagnetic radiation, either electronically by means of an image sensor, or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film. It is employed in many fields of science, manufacturing, and business, as well as its more direct uses for art, film and video production, recreational purposes, hobby, and mass communication.

Philadelphia Largest city in Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, known colloquially as Philly, is the largest city in the U.S. state and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the sixth-most populous U.S. city with a 2018 census-estimated population of 1,584,138. Since 1854, the city has had the same geographic boundaries as Philadelphia County, the most populous county in Pennsylvania and the urban core of the eighth-largest U.S. metropolitan statistical area, with over 6 million residents as of 2017. Philadelphia is also the economic and cultural anchor of the greater Delaware Valley, located along the lower Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers, within the Northeast megalopolis. The Delaware Valley's population of 7.2 million ranks it as the eighth-largest combined statistical area in the United States.

The New York Motion Picture Company is a film production company which lasted from 1909 to 1914, though its name changed to the New York Picture Corporation in 1912. It released films through several different brand names, including 101 Bison, Kay-Bee, Broncho, Domino, Reliance, and Keystone Studios.

In early 1914 Balshofer left NYMPC and became the head of the Sterling Motion Picture Company, a subsidiary of Universal Pictures. [1] [2] Sterling ceased production in early 1915 [3] and a few months later Balshofer joined Quality Pictures, a subsidiary of Metro Pictures. [4] By 1916, Balshofer was president and general manager of the Yorke-Metro studios at 1329 Gordon St. in Hollywood. In the 1920s, he produced and directed films for his own production company.

Metro Pictures defunct American film studio

Metro Pictures Corporation was a motion picture production company founded in early 1915 in Jacksonville, Florida. It was a forerunner of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The company produced its films in New York, Los Angeles, and sometimes at leased facilities in Fort Lee, New Jersey. It was purchased in 1919.

During his career, Fred Balshofer produced and/or directed more than eighty silent films then, after an unsuccessful attempt at age fifty directing a Spanish language talkie, he spent the better part of his remaining career working as a studio executive. In 1967 he teamed up with friend and acclaimed cinematographer Arthur C. Miller to write a significant book on the film industry under the title "One Reel a Week." Published by the University of California Press, the book chronicled the early history of the motion picture industry, including the shift in location and facilities from the East Coast to Southern California and the rise of the western film genre.

University of California Press American publishing house

University of California Press, otherwise known as UC Press, is a publishing house associated with the University of California that engages in academic publishing. It was founded in 1893 to publish scholarly and scientific works by faculty of the University of California, established 25 years earlier in 1868, and has been officially headquartered at the University's flagship campus in Berkeley, California since its inception.

East Coast of the United States Coastline in the United States

The East Coast of the United States, also known as the Eastern Seaboard, the Atlantic Coast, and the Atlantic Seaboard, is the coastline along which the Eastern United States meets the North Atlantic Ocean. The coastal states that have shoreline on the Atlantic Ocean are, from north to south, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

Selected filmography

Davy Crockett – In Hearts United is a 1909 American silent film starring Charles K. French as Davy Crockett, with Evelyn Graham, Charles Bauman, Charles W. Travis and Charles Inslee. The film was directed by Fred Balshofer and distributed by New York Motion Picture Co. It was commercially released on June 4, 1909 in the United States. This is believed to be the first movie ever made about Davy Crockett. The fictional romance depicted frontiersman Crockett rescuing a woman named Anna in mid-ceremony from marriage to a man she didn't love. She and Crockett rode off on his horse. They went directly to a minister who married them, and he brought her home to his mother.

Charles K. French American actor

Charles K. French was an American film actor, screenwriter and director who appeared in more than 240 films between 1909 and 1945.

An Indian Love Story is a one-reel silent short film about personal relationships in a Native American community. The film is about two married couples, each of the partners of which are involved with the spouse of the other couple, a former lover. It is a western drama released in 1911 and directed by Fred J. Balshofer and was produced by Bison. It was also titled An Indian Love Affair.

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  1. "President Laemmle at the Coast", Moving Picture World: 1097, February 28, 1914, retrieved December 5, 2013
  2. ""Sterling" will be Brand Name", Motion Picture News: 24, April 11, 1914, retrieved December 5, 2013
  3. "The Sterling Co. has ceased production...", Moving Picture World: 503, January 23, 1915, retrieved December 5, 2013
  4. "Quality Pictures Corporation", Moving Picture World: 240, July 10, 1915, retrieved December 5, 2013
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