Charles H. Webster

American projectionist, cameraman, producer

Charles Webster was an employee of the Holland brothers who subsequently toured with Kinetoscopes in the company of James White. When the Kinetoscope business began to tail off in late 1895 White and Webster sold their machines and the latter entered Edison's employ. There he met his future business partner, Edmund Kuhn, whose wife was employed at West Orange hand colouring Annabelle's dances and the like. With the arrival of the Vitascope and projected Edison film, Edison agents Raff and Gammon were keen to try out the European market and sent Webster with a Vitascope to London on 22 April. In London Webster met magician Paul Cinquevalli who had been interested in acquiring the English and French rights to the Vitascope before he saw the competition offered by Lumière. Webster reported on what he saw, that there were machines already in operation, and gave praise in particular to the Lumière Cinématographe then on show at the Empire ('they have no colors, prize fights or dancers, yet are received with cheers nightly') He began touring Europe, with only moderate success. Webster left the Vitascope Company in late 1896 and formed the Cinographoscope Company, marketing an eponymous projector, and almost simultaneously formed the International Film Company with Edmund Kuhn. The company immediately began production of its own, as well as selling duped Edison titles. It also marketed its Projectograph projector, a cheap and popular machine (Edwin S. Porter took one with him to Jamaica in 1897). Minor players in the burgeoning film production scene, the International Film Company's best known work was the Horitz Passion Play, exhibited by Klaw and Erlanger in late 1897. A cheerful advertising film Dewars Scotch Whisky (1897) is a surviving example of the company's output. Many of their films were simple actualities or copies of other companies' hits, and the company went out of business in 1898.

Luke McKernan