The earliest films were non-narrative documents of mundane events or entertainment acts. The competing companies where those that had projectors. In the US, Edison Company had the Kinetoscope. In France, the Lumière Brothers had the Cinematograph. And in England, Charles Jenkins had the Phantoscope (which was the first machine to project a motion picture).
There earliest known surviving celluloid film was shot by by Louis Le Prince on October 14, 1888 in Roundhay, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England.
Edison Company produced many short films using the Kinetograph, the most famous of which (for some reason or other) was Fred Ott’s Sneeze (1894). This was considered a documentary.
However, the sneeze wasn’t the earliest. The earliest by Edison that I could find was Dickson’s Greeting (1891). Dickson invented the Kinetograph technology for Edison.
Other Edison films were entertainment acts. Edison Co were trying to make money after all and the best way to do that was to entertain. Here’s a compilation of some early Edison films for your enjoyment.
The Lumière Brothers were also interested in cashing in on this new medium with their actualités. Here’s a compilation of their films for your enjoyment.
But most of these short films were for the Nickelodeon arcade traffic. Soon, films would become longer and they would start to tell stories.
Next article The First Narrative Films
Previous article Before Film