Although his accomplishments have been long overshadowed by his legendary mentor, Thomas Edison, as well as by the Lumière Brothers, a convincing argument can be made that British engineer William Kennedy (W.K.) Laurie Dickson was the true father of the film industry. Without Dickson’s dream of elevating the primitive concept of moving pictures to a form of popular entertainment virtually limitless in scope, the cinema might never have progressed beyond its original status as a novelty, a toy for children. Not only was he the movies’ most tireless early supporter, he was also the first true filmmaker, and every director from the Hollywood mainstream to the fringes of the avant-garde owes him a tremendous debt of gratitude.
Born in 1860 in Minihic-sur-Ranse, France, Dickson was 19 when he first contacted Edison to seek work at the inventor’s Menlo Park, NJ, laboratory. Dickson’s request was promptly refused, but four years later he boarded an oceanliner and traveled to the U.S… read more