Over 2004-2005 I worked (with Simon Brown) as Senior Research Fellow at the AHRB Centre for British Film and Television Studies, based at Birkbeck, University of London, on a project investigating the nature of the film business in London 1894-1914, led by Professor Ian Christie. Simon studied the producers, distributors and ancillary businesses, while I took on exhibition and audiences. As part of this project I collected a large number of written testimonies from published and unpublished sources on the experience of going to the cinema in London before the First World War. The research inspired this website, and many of the documents I discovered are reproduced here.
These are published outcomes of the London Project:
- The London Project database of over 2,000 film businesses (1894-1914) and film venues (1906-1914) in London: http://londonfilm.bbk.ac.uk
- Simon Brown, ‘From inventor to renter: The middleman, the production crisis and the formation of the British film industry‘, Early Popular Visual Culture, vol. 11 no. 2 (May 2013) [available online through restricted academic services only]
- Luke McKernan, ‘A Fury for Seeing: Cinema, Audience and Leisure in London in 1913′, Early Popular Visual Culture, vol. 6 no. 3 (November 2008) [available online through restricted academic services only]
- Luke McKernan, ‘Diverting Time: London’s Cinemas and their Audiences, 1906-1914’, The London Journal, vol. 32 no. 2 (July 2007) [freely available online, by kind permission of Maney Publishing]
- Simon Brown, ‘Flicker Alley: Cecil Court and the Emergence of the British Film Industry‘, Film Studies issue 10, Spring 2007 [freely available online via Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine]
- Luke McKernan, ‘“Only the Screen Was Silent”: Memories of children’s cinema-going in London before the First World War’, Film Studies issue 10, Spring 2007 [freely available online via Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine]
- Luke McKernan, ‘The Familiarity of the New: The Emergence of a Motion Picture Industry in Late Nineteenth-Century London’, Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film, 33/2, Winter 2006 [available online through restricted academic services only]
- Luke McKernan, ‘Unequal Pleasures: Electric Theatres (1908) Ltd and the Early Film Exhibition Business in London‘ (text of talk given at Emergence of the Film Industry in Britain conference, University of Reading Business School, June 2006) [freely available online]
Other project outputs have included the touring exhibition Moving Pictures Come to London: The First Decades, 1894-1914, blue plaques commemorating early film businesses in London’s Cecil Court (‘Flicker Alley’), and a show with music and performers based on my essay ‘Only the Screen was Silent’. See also the London Screen History section of Ian Christie’s website.