Sunday, January 24, 2010

Suffragettes Pose

Below is an interesting short item on the filming of a short suffragette meeting. What is particular noteworthy here is the description of the shoot, which included, it seems, the use of the coconut shells as a rudimentary clapperboard to establish the initial points of synchronization.
Suffragettes Pose
Photographs and Speeches Taken for Talking-Picture Records.

In the year 2013 the world will know that the suffragists of 1913 could make five good suffrage speeches in five minutes. Suffragists went to the Edison Studios yesterday morning to act and talk before the moving and talking picture machine. Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, the National President and champion suffrage speechmaker, was prevented by illness from attending the meeting.

Miss Harriet May Mills presided at the meeting and Mrs. Raymond Brown, Miss Elizabeth Freeman, Mrs. James Lees Laidlaw, and Mrs. John Rogers, Jr., made the speeches. With the introductions of the Miss Mills, the whole session was over in five and three-quarter minutes. The women, when they found what they had to do, held three rehearsals of their speeches, then they talked to the phonograph, which gave their speeches back to them, and then came two genuine acts, as they were actually to be reproduced—the words and motions together.

The meeting began at the sound of the cocoanut—a couple of cocoanut shells clapped together—and each time the women came out on time in their minute speeches. What interested the moving picture men in charge of the work was that, while the women kept to the time limit, their speeches were so far impromptu that they never gave them twice alike.

Source: “Suffragettes Pose,” New York Times 20 March 1913, 9.