New York Motion Picture Company

The New York Motion Picture Company is a film production company which lasted from 1909 to 1914, though its name changed to the New York Picture Corporation in 1912.[1] It released films through several different brand names, including 101 Bison, Kay-Bee, Broncho, Domino, Reliance, and Keystone Studios.[1][2]

Keystone would later be a part of Triangle Pictures, which would merge with Feature Play and become Paramount Studios.[3]


The New York Motion Picture Company was founded in 1909 by Adam Kessel, Jr. (fr) (1866–1946), Charles Baumann, and camera operator Frank Balshofer.[1][4] Originally interested purely in film distribution, the company's refusal to work with Thomas Edison's Motion Picture Patents Company (MPPC) created difficulties in securing films.[5] Kessel was quoted as saying, "We would have to go out of business unless we made some films ourselves."[5] Their first film, Disinherited Son's Loyalty, was made in May 1909.[5] It cost around $200 to make, and earned $2,000.[4] From that point on, NYMPC would produce about half the films it played.

The company would later merge with the Universal Film Manufacturing Company, only to later pull out of the merger in favor of their rival, the Mutual Film Corp., when Universal attempted to remove Baumann as company president.[2] Due to the complicated legal situation, Universal continued to release films under the 101 Bison brand name at the same time as Mutual, which prompted NYMPC to release flyers urging viewers to make sure they were viewing a "genuine Bison."[2] It was during their time with Mutual that Kessel and Baumann formed the Keystone Studios brand with director and actor Mack Sennett.[6] At this point, the company had changed location from the North East to California, being one of the first to do so.[2][3]

It was during a one-year apprenticeship at Keystone that Charlie Chaplin made some of his earliest films.[7] It was during Chaplin's time at Keystone that he created the 'Little Tramp' character he became known for.[7]

In 1915, Keystone Studios became an integral part of the Triangle Film Corporation, after the decision was made to end the merger with Mutual Film Corp.[5] Triangle Film sought to combine the talents of producers D.W. Griffith, Thomas Ince and Mack Sennett.[5] Essentially, it was a combining of assets between Kessel, Baumann, and former Mutual Film Corp. president Harry Aitken as well as Jesse Lasky's Feature Play company.[8] Their mission statement was to make multi-reel films, a la Birth of a Nation, that would appeal to higher class audiences while also gaining popularity among the general population.[8]

Triangle Film was largely considered a failure, however, Feature Play would go on to merge with Famous Players and become Paramount Pictures, a company that was far more successful in achieving the kind of vertical integration Triangle sought after in its business model.[3][8]


  1. Bennet, Carl (2014). "New York Motion Picture Company". Silent Film Era. The Silent Era Company. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  2. Joyce, Simon, and Jennifer Putzi (2009). ""The Greatest Combination in Motion Pictures": Film History and the Division of Labor in the New York Motion Picture Company". Film History: An International Journal. 21: 189–207. doi:10.2979/fil.2009.21.3.189. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  3. "Movies: The Business, The Studios, The Stars." American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman, et al. Vol. 2: 1910-1919. Detroit: Gale, 2001. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 21 October 2014.
  4. Joyce, Simon and Jennifer Putzi. "Adam Kessel." In Immigrant Entrepreneurship: German-American Business Biographies, 1720 to the Present, vol. 4, edited by Jeffrey Fear. German Historical Institute. Last modified May 25, 2016.
  5. "Corporate Organization." An Evening's Entertainment: The Age of the Silent Feature Picture, 1915-1928. Richard Koszarski. Ed. Charles Harpole. Vol. 3. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1990. [63]-94. History of the American Cinema 3. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 22 October 2014.
  6. Riblet, Douglas Blair. "The Keystone Film Company, 1912 to 1915." Order No. 9829123 The University of Wisconsin - Madison, 1998. Ann Arbor: ProQuest. Web. 21 October 2014.
  7. Miffin, Jeffrey. "Early Charlie Chaplin: The Artist As Apprentice At Keystone Studios." Historical Journal of Film, Radio & Television 33.1 (2013): 157-159. Film & Television Literature Index. Web. 22 October 2014.
  8. King, R. "Made for the masses with an appeal to the classes": The triangle film corporation and the failure of highbrow film culture. Cinema Journal, 44(2), 3-33. Web. 22 October 2014.
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