|To Demonstrate How Spiders Fly|
|Directed by||F. Percy Smith|
|Distributed by||Urban Trading Company|
To Demonstrate How Spiders Fly is a 1909 British short silent animated documentary film, directed by F. Percy Smith, featuring a close-up of an animated model spider throwing its silken thread to take to the air. The film features "the first of several animated creatures to appear in Smith's films", and according to Jenny Hammerton of BFI Screenonline was made in the belief, "that he could cure people of their fear of spiders by showing them blown up images of their eight legged foes on the cinema screen."
The Snowman is a 1982 British animated television film and symphonic poem based on Raymond Briggs' 1978 picture book The Snowman. It was directed by Dianne Jackson for the British public service Channel 4. It was first shown on 26 December 1982, and was an immediate success. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and won a BAFTA TV Award.
Fly-on-the-wall is a style of documentary-making used in film and television production. The name derived from the idea that events are seen candidly, as a fly on a wall might see them. In the purest form of fly-on-the-wall documentary-making, the camera crew works as unobtrusively as possible; however, it is also common for participants to be interviewed, often by an off-camera voice.
Grandma's Reading Glass is a 1900 British short silent drama film, directed by George Albert Smith, featuring a young Willy who borrows a huge magnifying glass to focus on various objects, which was shot to demonstrate the new technique of close-up. The film, according to Michael Brooke of BFI Screenonline, "was one of the first films to cut between medium shot and point-of-view close-up. It was destroyed in a fire at Warwick Trading Company's studio facility in 1912.
Arthur Melbourne Cooper was a British photographer and early filmmaker best known for his pioneering work in stop-motion animation. He produced over three hundred films between 1896 and 1915, of which an estimated 36 were all or in part animated. These include Dreams of Toyland (1908) and according to some sources Dolly’s Toys (1901), as well as Matches: An Appeal, which Dutch independent researcher Tjitte de Vries has claimed may have been the first animated film to be shown in public.
The Sick Kitten is a 1903 British short silent comedy film, directed by George Albert Smith, featuring two young children tending to a sick kitten.
The House That Jack Built is a 1900 British short silent drama film, directed by George Albert Smith, featuring a boy who knocks over a house made of bricks built by his sister and then rebuilds it when the original sequence is shown in reverse. "In addition to exploiting a popular cinematic trick," of, "reversing the film in the projector," and, "its audience's presumed knowledge of the technique," the director, according to Michael Brooke of BFI Screenonline, "was continuing his experiments with narrative forms," with the reversed sequence, "interpreted as wish-fulfilment on the part of the girl, hoping that time will literally turn back on itself to allow her house to be rebuilt," he, "demonstrates that while this is impossible in reality, it is easily achievable in cinema."
Explosion of a Motor Car is a 1900 British short black-and-white silent comedy film, directed by Cecil M. Hepworth, featuring an exploding automobile scattering the body parts of its driver and passenger. "One of the most memorable of early British trick films" according to Michael Brooke of BFI Screenonline, "was one of the first films to play with the laws of physics for comic effect." It features one of the earliest known uses in a British film of the stop trick technique discovered by French filmmaker Georges Méliès in 1896, and also includes one of the earliest film uses of comedy delay – later to be widely used as a convention in animated films – where objects take much longer to fall to the ground than they would do in reality. It is included in the BFI DVD Early Cinema: Primitives and Pioneers and a clip is featured in Paul Merton's interactive guide to early British silent comedy How They Laughed on the BFI website.
Spiders on a Web is a 1900 British short silent documentary film, directed by George Albert Smith, featuring a single shot close-up of two spiders trapped in an enclosure. The film is, according to Michael Brooke of BFI Screenonline, "less formally ambitious," than the director's, "groundbreaking multiple close-up study Grandma's Reading Glass (1900), made the same year, but is nonetheless, "one of the earliest British examples of close-up natural history photography, predating Percy Smith's insect studies by a decade."
Santa Claus is an 1898 British short silent drama film, directed by George Albert Smith, which features Santa Claus visiting a house on Christmas Eve. The film, according to Michael Brooke of BFI Screenonline, "is believed to be the cinema's earliest known example of parallel action and, when coupled with double-exposure techniques that Smith had already demonstrated in the same year's The Mesmerist (1898) and Photographing a Ghost (1898), the result is one of the most visually and conceptually sophisticated British films made up to then." It has been described as the very first Christmas movie and a technical marvel of its time.
The Old Maid's Valentine is a 1900 British short silent comedy film, directed by George Albert Smith, which features the titular Miss Pimple receiving an unpleasant surprise on 14 February. The film, according to Michael Brooke of BFI Screenonline, "is essentially a facial - a medium close-up shot of a single performer whose changing expression constitutes virtually all the film's dramatic action." David Fisher points out that, "the flapping of the sheet of paper and the movement of the calendar betray the open-air set," which, "makes it difficult to read the message: Just like Mama," whilst, "the remarkably well-behaved cat," which, "sits patently licking its paws," "suggests that Smith may have already learned the trick of smearing the cat's fur with food."
The Big Swallow is a 1901 British short silent comedy film, directed by James Williamson, featuring a man, irritated by the presence of a photographer, who solves his dilemma by swallowing him and his camera whole. The three-shot trick film is, according to Michael Brooke of BFI Screenonline, "one of the most important early British films in that it was one of the first to deliberately exploit the contrast between the eye of the camera and of the audience watching the final film".
Let Me Dream Again is a 1900 British short silent drama film, directed by George Albert Smith, featuring a man dreaming about an attractive young woman and then waking up next to his wife. The film stars Smith's real wife, Laura Bayley, as the woman of his fantasies. Bayley would later appear in Smith's 1906 film Mary Jane's Mishap. The film, according to Michael Brooke of BFI Screenonline, "is an excellent example of an early two-shot film, and is particularly interesting for the way it attempts a primitive dissolve by letting the first shot slip out of focus before cutting to the second shot, which starts off out of focus and gradually sharpens." This appears to be the first use of a dissolve transition to signify a movement of a dreaming state to one of reality.
The Countryman and the Cinematograph is a 1901 British short silent comedy film, directed by Robert W. Paul, featuring a stereotypical yokel reacting to films projected onto a screen. The film, "is one of the earliest known examples of a film within a film," where, according to Michael Brooke of BFI Screenonline, "the audience reaction to that film is as important a part of the drama as the content of the film itself."
Frank Percy Smith was a British naturalist and early nature documentary pioneer working for Charles Urban, where he pioneered the use of time-lapse and microcinematography.
The Strength and Agility of Insects is a 1911 British short silent documentary film, directed by F. Percy Smith, featuring close-ups of houseflies and other insects secured and juggling various objects with their feet. The films in this series, which included The Acrobatic Fly (1910), "caused an absolute furore when they were first shown to the public," and, according to Jenny Hammerton of the BFI, Smith, whose stated intention "was of course to entertain the public, but also to demonstrate the strength and agility of those insects we might unthinkingly squash or swat when they settle on our lunch," "was forced to justify his methods in the press, guaranteeing that there was no trickery involved and certainly no cruelty."
Secrets of Nature was a 1922–1933 British short black-and-white documentary film series, consisting of 144 films produced by British Instructional Films, which filmmaker, historian and critic Paul Rotha described in 1930 as "the sheet anchor of the British film industry".
The Man to Beat Jack Johnson is a 1910 British short black-and-white silent comedy film, produced by the Tyler Film Company, featuring four-year-old Willy Sanders demonstrating his boxing and wrestling skills against an adult opponent. The film, "has the feel of a filmed music hall act " thanks, according to Michael Brooke of BFI Screenonline, to a, "simple idea ," which is, "primitive in its execution." A clip from this film is featured in Paul Merton's interactive guide to early British silent comedy How They Laughed.
The Biter Bit is an 1899 British short black-and-white silent comedy film, produced by Bamforth & Co Ltd, featuring a boy playing a practical joke on a gardener by grasping his hose to stop the water flow and then letting go again when the gardener looks down it to check. The film, "is an English remake" of Auguste and Louis Lumière's L'Arroseur Arrosé (1895), according to Michael Brooke of BFI Screenonline, "providing a good illustration of how early film production companies cheerfully plagiarised each other's work" with "a few minor differences between, most notably a rather greater sense of space and depth in the Bamforth version" and "three distinct planes to the action". It is included in the BFI DVD Early Cinema: Primitives and Pioneers and a clip is used in Paul Merton's interactive guide to early British silent comedy How They Laughed on the BFI website.
Tommy Atkins in the Park is an 1898 British short black-and-white silent comedy film, directed by Robert W. Paul, featuring couple courting in a park who are forced to use desperate measures to get rid of a stout matron who interrupts them. The film was a remake of Alfred Moul's The Soldier's Courtship (1896). It is included on the BFI DVD R.W. Paul: The Collected Films 1895-1908 and a clip is featured in Paul Merton's interactive guide to early British silent comedy How They Laughed on the BFI website.
Willie's Magic Wand is a 1907 British short silent comedy film, directed by Walter R. Booth, featuring a young boy terrorising the household with his father's magic wand. Similar to "earlier trick films The Haunted Curiosity Shop and Undressing Extraordinary ," this is, according to Michael Brooke of BFI Screenonline, "essentially a series of [loosely linked] special-effects set pieces," however, "the print in the National Film and Television Archive is incomplete, omitting amongst other things a come-uppance where Willie is punished for his misdemeanours by being turned into a girl, thus depriving him of more than one magic wand." A clip from the film is featured in Paul Merton's interactive guide to early British silent comedy How They Laughed on the BFI website.