Major Directors and Producers
LumiÃ¨re, Auguste and Louis: In 1895, the LumiÃ¨re brothers invented a machine, the CinÃ©matographe, that could shoot, print, and project moving pictures. It was superior to Thomas Edisonâ€™s Kinetograph (1891) because it was portable, allowing for easy transportation and outdoor use. On December 28, 1895, a date widely considered the birthday of cinema, the LumiÃ¨res held a public screening of five of their first films, including Workers Leaving the LumiÃ¨re Factory and The Arrival of a Train at the Station. As the titles suggest, the LumiÃ¨re films were primarily nonfiction recordings of everyday occurrences, although some also included staged comedic and dramatic elements. The LumiÃ¨res sent camera crews abroad to shoot and exhibit films, inspiring the birth of film industries around the world and garnering them international fame. The CinÃ©matographe used 35-millimeter film and had a projection speed of 16 frames per secondâ€”technical specifications that would become industry standards in the silent period.
MÃ©liÃ¨s, Georges: While the LumiÃ¨re brothers demonstrated cinemaâ€™s documentary function, MÃ©liÃ¨s is considered the first to explore the mediumâ€™s potential for fictional storytelling. In films such as A Trip to the Moon (1902), MÃ©liÃ¨s created whimsical adventure stories that were shot on elaborate stage sets and that became popular for their sight gags and otherworldly imagery. MÃ©liÃ¨s was a pioneer in the use of optical effects, editing, mise-en-scÃ¨ne, and lighting design. His inventive and fantastical films revealed the mediumâ€™s ability to convey artistic creativity and imagination.