Thursday, December 5, 2013

Silent Stop Motion Early Movie

R.F.D. 10,000 B.C. (alternative titles G.F.D. 10,000 Years B.C. or R.F.D. 2,000,000 B.C. with the subtitle A Mannikin Comedy) was produced in 1916 by the great stop-motion pioneer Willis Harold O'Brien for the Edison Studios; the producers : Conquest Pictures Company and Edison Company.

Willis Harold O'Brien (March 2, 1886 -- November 8, 1962) was an American motion picture special effects and stop-motion animation pioneer, who according to ASIFA-Hollywood "was responsible for some of the best-known images in cinema history," and is best remembered for his work on The Lost World (1925), King Kong (1933) and Mighty Joe Young (1949), for which he won the 1950 Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

I was assistant to the head architect of the 1913 San Francisco World's Fair, where some of his work was displayed. During this time he made models, including a dinosaur and a caveman, which he animated with the assistance of a local newsreel cameraman. San Francisco exhibitor Herman Wobber saw this 90-second test footage and commissioned O'Brien to make his first film, The Dinosaur and the Missing Link: A Prehistoric Tragedy (1915) for a budget of $5,000.

Thomas Edison was impressed by the film and O'Brien was hired by the Edison Company to animate a series of short films with a prehistoric theme, these included R.F.D. 10,000 B.C. and Prehistoric Poultry (both released at the end of 1916).
O'Brien was married to Hazel Ruth Collette in 1925 and they had two sons together, William and Willis, Jr., but the marriage was an unhappy one, which O'Brien was reportedly forced into and rebelled against with drinking, gambling, and extra-marital affairs. The couple had divorced by 1930 and the two boys remained with their mother, who had begun to show unbalanced behaviour. O'Brien died in Los Angeles. He was survived by his second wife, Darlyne. In 1997, he was posthumously awarded the Winsor McCay Award by ASIFA-Hollywood, the United States chapter of the International Animated Film Society ASIFA (Association internationale du film d'animation). The award is in recognition of lifetime or career contributions to the art of animation. 

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