Norman Studios Silent Film Museum Jacksonville, FL
Before there was Hollywood there was Jacksonville, Florida the World’s Winter Film Capital.
Easy rail access, diverse architecture, striking scenery and cheap labor led filmmakers from the Northeast to the warmer climate in the early 1920s.
Richard E Norman founded the Norman Studios to produce “Race Films”starring African-American characters in positive and non stereotypical roles. Norman, who was white, not only had a sincere, heartfelt desire to help improve race relations he also saw an underserved business market among blacks filmgoers. He also saw there was a wealth of talent among black stage and vaudeville stars.
Seeing an untapped market Norman set out to help give the black community a stronger place on film, behind the cameras and in the theaters.
The movie industry’s first black filmmakers created a stir, producing race films. While these films were largely shunned by white audiences, they were a source of pride among the black community.
Norman’s silent films like “The Flying Ace”, “Black Gold” and “The Green Eyed Monster”, featured all black casts, on small budgets which were highly successful in their time.
There was even a Western built around the world’s colored Rodeo Champion Bill Pickett.
Filmmakers eventually deserted the East for the West Coast, because Thomas Edison’s “Edison Trust” had a monopoly on every aspect of movie making.
In California, filmmakers hoped to evade the “Edison Trust” stranglehold on their industry.
Today this four building complex is the sole studio remnant of Jacksonville’s heyday as the Winter Film Capital of the World.
David Garland FL Jacksonville Feb 27, 2023 Arts Back in Time Movies
Location: Jacksonville, FL
David Garland Feb 27, 2023
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