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Through Fire and Smoke (Selig)

August 31, 2011

Selig cinematographers rival the phone-hackers at News of the World:

According to an article in the August, 1911 issue of Motography

“The Edendale plant of the Selig Company is connected by wire with the central fire department station at Los Angeles. Every alarm turned in at the station is communicated at once to the studio. If the fire promises well, the camera man’s automobile is on its way in a moment, often being the first at the scene of the fire. Indeed, the Selig producer has all privileges inside the fire lines, second only to the fire chief himself.”

The article goes on to explain that fire department allowed i to film scenes for Through Fire and Smoke during an actual fire in progress at the F. J. Byrne building. Apparently they stood by while the actors playing the hero, Thomas Santschi, climbed up a ladder propped against the blazing building to rescue the heroine (Betty Harte). Only after the act was committed to film did “the regular firemen go on with their work.” While the cameraman continues filming.

– Webster, H. Kent “A Real Fire Film Story” MOTOGRAPHY (August 1911): 82.

MOTOGRAPHY (August 1911): 52.

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