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  • Writer's pictureSouth West Silents

The Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum: The Canyon Film Project


Well, while we were having our adventures in San Francisco we came across this rather interesting film project being produced by the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum. (It’s worth checking out their website).

Now, we’re not always big fans of teams trying to imitate Silent Films (some can be good, others not very good while others are terrible); we even delved into making our own silent film a few years ago. However, when we began to hear about the Niles Essanay project, we thought, at least, we could mention it on the website, as it does sound, incredibly fun…

The following extract was written by Film Historian and Author David Kiehn:

‘To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Essanay Film Company arriving in Niles, the Niles Essanay Silent film Museum is making a one-reel silent western called The Canyon.

We will be using a 35mm Bell & Howell 2709 hand cranked camera to film on location at the 1911 Niles Jail, the 1901 Southern Pacific train depot, Niles Canyon and other locations in the area where the company filmed their comedies and westerns.

[youtube] There will be a train robbery in the canyon with the co-operation of the Niles Canyon Railway using one of their steam engines and vintage rolling stock.

The film will premiere at the museum’s 1913 nickelodeon-era Edison Theater where Essanay personnel watched movies of the day, and where we’ve been showing silent films on film every Saturday for over 7 seven years.

We are raising funds to produce the film at where donations can be made. The fundraising goal is listed as $21,500, but thanks to the enlistment of many volunteers and in-kind donations our revised budget is $9,000, although we aren’t allowed to change the listed amount.

So far $4,489 has been pledged online and we have received direct donations to the museum that puts the figure close to $5,000. The deadline is August 7.

We encourage those who are interested to pledge, and also spread the word.

Thanks. David Kiehn, Museum Historian, Author and Director of the film.’

Worth mentioning that David’s book BRONCHO BILLY AND THE ESSANAY FILM COMPANY is really worth a read! The book is also one of the key books which looks into the history of the Western in the early stages of Hollywood. A lot of us at Bristol Silents have copies of this book and it’s really worth getting hold of!

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