by Michele Guttenberger
On Sun., July 17, the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange partnered with MONO NO AWARE, a nonprofit cinematic arts creative group to offer a one day film workshop at the exact site and replica of the legendary Black Maria studio.
The program was promoted as a school age workshop. Participants were given special reservations to shoot film inside the Black Maria using the film format that was originally used more than 100 years ago. Family participants came as far as Brooklyn New York to learn about old film production methods and starred in their own skit complete with props and attire accessories. The skits were shot using 16mm film. This is a format Edison’s movie cameras used to capture short sequences as black and white images on reversal film stock.
MONO NO AWARE staff was the camera crew and film processors. At 4 p.m. all workshop movie participants got to see their film projected on the movie screen at the visitor’s film viewing area and also received a digital video copy of their work.
This was the third year of this popular July summer film workshop. The park staff looks forward to repeating this family program again next July with MONO NO AWARE. Plan ahead for it in next year’s summer calendar: note Sunday mid-July 2017 as a summer cinematic workshop date. Be aware this workshop has limited enrollment slots and fills up quickly.
Edison and his staff produced hundreds of filmstrips from their Black Maria studio, with many genres and titles ranging from the romantic Kiss to a Cockfight and sports Wrestling, that were made to be viewed in Kinetoscope parlors across the country in the 1880’s. The first movie theater projection was in 1896. The Edison Company showed a collection of moving images as a minor act in a vaudeville show at Koster and Bial’s Music Hall in New York City. This event inaugurated the era of commercial movies which has now lasted into the 21st Century.
During the month of August come see these same landmark films. Edison studio produced films will be shown every Friday at 2:30 p.m. in historical building 11 which is free with an entrance admission.
For more special family programs at Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange go to www.nps.gov/edis or contact visitor information at 973-736-0550 x11.