Alice Guy-Blaché was not only the first woman director, she was one of the very first film directors, period. She was a secretary to camera maker Leon Gaumont, and together they attended the first-ever public screening of a movie in Paris in 1895, "Workers Leaving the Lumiere Factory." As a result, Gaumont agreed to let Alice "play" with their cameras as long as her clerical duties didn't suffer. Her after-hours creations became among the first narrative films and they were so successful, she was made the head of Gaumont’s newly formed production company in 1897. Over the next decade, she directed over 1000 short films and when she moved to America in 1910 with her husband, the cameraman Herbert Blache, she formed Solax in Fort Lee, New Jersey, where she directed and supervised several hundred more films over the next four years. Despite having two children to look after, Guy-Blaché kept pace with the production schedule of D.W. Griffith, who was directing his films for Biograph in nearby lower Manhattan.
|Alice Guy-Blaché. Courtesy of Cari Beauchamp|