Edison Upgrades

Supervising the construction of Edison’s state-of-the-art Bronx studio (from early 1906 through the end of 1907) consumed much of the time of Edison’s production head, Edwin S. Porter, who oversaw every detail, down to the design of the lighting and the installation of a mechanized developing lab. Moreover, once the studio had become operational, Porter’s customary working methods—he scripted the stories, photographed and edited the footage, and even developed the negative film—made it extremely hard for the company to increase its output. There were some gains, but primarily because Edison hired more employees (especially professional actors) and not because the company’s operations became any more efficient. By the time Edison was able to turn out two story films per month (in August 1907), it had already been trailing the boom in demand for its product for two years. (For more on Porter, see Chapter 4 and Biographical Sketch 4.2.)

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