A Look at Lois Weber, America’s First Woman Filmmaker

We continue to celebrate National Women’s History Month with our spotlight on Lois Weber. Lois Weber (June 13, 1879 – November 13, 1939) whose birth name is Florence Pietz is known as America’s first woman filmmaker. She began her career working as an actress alongside her husband, Phillips Smalley after the two had worked together in the theatre. They began working in motion pictures around 1907, often billed under the collective title “The Smalleys.” In 1913 she began directing films. She is the first American woman to direct a full-length feature, the Rex production of The Merchant of Venice in 1914.

Lois Weber, Female Film Director

Image source: The New York Times

By 1916, Weber worked at Universal and was one of the highest paid directors in the world. She formed her own production company in 1917, and her career flourished until the early 1920’s. Lois’ films focused on serious, controversial issues like birth control and abortion, which brought her into constant conflict with distributors. She directed over 100 films but sadly is a forgotten pioneer in the Hollywood motion picture and film industry. Today we remember her as we celebrate the life and contributions of Lois Weber.

Happy #NationalWomensHistoryMonth


Celebrating the 83rd Anniversary of the Drive-In Movie Theater

Cinema, Drive-In Movies, Drive-In Theaters

Image Credit: cinematreasures.org

Did you know that 83 years today the first drive-in movie theater opened on Crescent Boulevard in Camden, New Jersey in 1933? That’s right. Park-In Theaters (later known as “drive-in theaters”) was the brainchild of Richard Hollingshead, a movie fan and a sales manager at his father’s company, Whiz Auto Products, in Camden.

Hollingshead came up with the idea of an open-air theater where patrons watched movies in the comfort of their own automobiles. He then experimented in the driveway of his own house with different projection and sound techniques, mounting a 1928 Kodak projector on the hood of his car, then pinning a screen to some trees, and placing a radio behind the screen for sound. He also tested ways to guard against rain and other inclement weather, as well as devised the ideal spacing arrangement for a number of cars so that everyone would have a view of the screen. He patented his concept in May 1933 and opened the gates to his theater the next month.

drive-in movies, concession stand food, soda pop, popcorn, hotdogsAccording to the National Association of Theatre Owners, more than 75% of the drive-ins in this country are privately owned small businesses. Although indoor movie theaters are more flexible about scheduling and are designed to show multiple films under the same roof, it is estimated that there are still about 400 drive-ins that remain operational in the United States and about 100 drive-ins that exist outside of the U.S.A.

Of course, as with any movie, you had to have the concession stand treats, which consisted of our all time favorites: popcorn, candy, hot dogs and soda pop. If you have never experienced the thrill of watching a movie in the great outdoors at a drive-in theater, you must experience this outdoor leisure activity that your whole family can enjoy.