Sunday, February 8, 2009

Film Industry in Muskegon - 1921

Reading all the hub-bub about film production in Michigan, and the tax rebates being offered by the state, I recalled this little gem that I unearthed while digging up old articles on the Actors Colony.

I've taken the time to hyperlink some of the details within for those interested.



Manager of Productions
Company Delighted With
the Possibilities.

"Muskegon has been selected as out permanent headquarters and I can see no reason where in the reasonably near future, the people here cannot expect to see one of the great moving picture studios of the country but right hear, in this city," declared Manager Thomas J. Faussett of the Michigan Productions company, the moving picture firm which is soon to show his first Michigan made film in Muskegon, starring the company's next picture story has already been written by an author of note and the beginning of filming it is believed by Mr. Faussett to be not more than 20 days distant. He is leaving July 28 for New York to engage the cast. None but the best stars will be used, he says.

Says Scenery Unsurpassed
Muskegon's natural scenery is wonderful for pastures, Mr. Faussett declares. Since coming here a few weeks ago, he was made a careful study of conditions, having been on the go 15 and 16 hours every day. Between the Indiana border and the Straits so far as exterior work is concerned, nothing to surpass the natural scenery for film work can be found in the world, he declares.

Along with the growth of the company, it is Mr. Faussett's opinion the Muskegon will begin to realize, as he believes, that the film business is only in the beginning and that with schools, the homes and in fact every work of life, including the nation's great industrial enterprises taking up films as mediums for conveying ideas, he looks for the future development of this business on a scale that will startle even many who are now engaged in the business purely from the theatre production end.

Home Talent for Extras Only
While it is believed that with the interest which has already been shown among member the local Actors' colony, assuring interest among home talent that can be used for extras it is made clear by the manager that this is not a home talent concern in any sense.

In the picture, "The Rich Slave" directed by Romaine Fielding, this noted film star played the male lead himself. The star, Mabel Taliaferro will be remembered by hundreds of local theatre goers as the girl who attracted nation-wide attention in "Polly of The Circus."
Fielding Was Popular Star
Previous to going into the army service, Mr. Fielding, while yet an actor, won a national popularity contest but had given up action to devote all his time to directing before taking part in the war. Barney Gilmore, Herbert Startling, Jr., Ben Hendricks and Robert Forsythe are other stars employed by the Michigan Production company.

Previous to taking up film work, Mr. Faussett was engaged in financial inspection work and traveled all over the United States having been in all states of the Union except four. He says in all his travels he never has seen anything to compare to the general advantages which appear to be at the disposal of Muskegon and his faith in the city's future is unlimited. It will be as ideal for the promotion and development of a great film business as any other northern city, he declares."

Why Wait for Your Ship to Come in?
Michigan Productions, Inc. opened an office in the Union National Bank building in downtown Muskgon and offered local residents the opportunity to invest in the business. Noting the completion of "The Rich Slave", stock was offered at $10 per share.
On August 31, 1920, the film opened for a three-day engagement at the local Lion Theater, then moved around the country.
The following is a brief description of the film from the January 22, 1921 Utica, New York Saturday Globe.
For more on Romaine Fielding, go here

Here's more on the film, from archivist Bob Garrett at The Archives of Michigan

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