Alice Ida Antoinette Guy-Blaché
Alice Ida Antoinette Guy-Blaché was born on July 1, 1873, and died on March 24, 1968. She was a French pioneer filmmaker and was one of the first filmmakers to make a narrative fiction film and was also the first woman to direct a film.
During the time period 1896 to 1906, she was most likely the only female filmmaker in the world. She experimented with Gaumont’s Chronophone sync-sound system, and with color-tinting, interracial casting, and special effects.
What is the Gaumont’s Chronophone sync sound system? The Vitaphone stem in England employed a similar technology, and each was used to produce hundreds of synchronized shorts between 1902 and 1912. Thomas Edison had commissioned the Kinetograph to provide visual images for his phonograph, and William Dickson had actually synchronized the two machines in a device briefly marketed in the 1890s as the Kinetophone.
She was the artistic director and a co-founder of Solax Studios in Flushing, New York. In 1912, Solax invested $100,000 for a new studio in Fort Lee, New Jersey, the center of American filmmaking prior to the establishment of Hollywood.
A Fool and His Money was her film made the same year and was p probably the first to have an all-African-American cast. Today the film is preserved at the National Center for Film and Video Preservation at the American Film Institute for its historical and aesthetic significance.
In 1894, Guy-Blaché started her career as a secretary for the Felix-Max Richard which was a camera manufacturing and photography supply company. By 1895 the company change hands after a court decision against Felix-Max Richard who sold the company to four men: Gustave Eiffel, Joseph Vallot, Alfred Besnier, and Léon Gaumont.
Gustave Eiffel was president of the company, and Léon Gaumont, thirty years Eiffel’s junior, was the manager. The company was named after Gaumont because Eiffel was the subject of a national scandal regarding the Panama Canal. L. Gaumont et Cie became a major force in the fledgling motion-picture industry in France.
Alice continued to work at Gaumont et Cie, a decision that led to a pioneering career in filmmaking that spanned more than 25 years and involved her directing, producing, writing, and/or overseeing more than 700 films.