The American Film Company

Chicago, Illinois

The American Film Manufacturing Company was founded in Chicago. The Second City would remain the company's base of operations throughout its corporate life. Samuel Hutchinson, John Freuler, Charles Hite and Harry Aitken, four mid-western exchangemen, joined forces and capital to create a production company to supply their various exchanges. The initial production staff, both in front and behind the camera, came almost exclusively from the ranks of the Essanay, a "licensed" production company that also called Chicago home.

The Flying A's initial productions were filmed at the leased studio of the defunct Phoenix Company in the fall of 1910 but by early 1911 the well financed American had moved into its own studios. Three shooting companies were created. Two would work at the studio or surrounding locales while the third unit was sent out to concentrate on westerns. This western unit would move through the southwest with stops in New Mexico, Arizona and finally California. The unit would eventually set up shop in the town of La Mesa.

By 1913 Chicago would cease to be used for production as all energies were aimed at the company's new, modern facilities in Santa Barbara. Yet all the other essential areas of the business remained in Illinois, from release printing to promotion. Chicago’s significance was strengthened even further when their distributor, Mutual Film Corporation, relocated from New York in 1914.

American’s Chicago office oversaw a flow of films throughout the world and maintained additional offices in Paris and London.


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