|Avid cinema lovers write the Wisconsin Bioscope begging to know where they might view see these miracles of screen art.
Until recently, the answer has been simple. Just two places: Wisconsin and Italy.
In Madison, the University of Wisconsin’s Cinematheque film series has shown many Wisconsin Bioscope shorts as preludes to silent feature films accompanied by live music. These are wonderful, free shows, but lamentably infrequent, and the Wisconsin Bioscope’s pictures are usually not advertised.
In Italy, Wisconsin Bioscope pictures have been screened at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto five times. Also known as the Pordenone Film Festival, this is the largest silent film event in the world, featuring the best projection facilities, wonderful live music, and the most knowledgeable audiences.
One would think that with such prestigious venues, strategically separated geographically, as they are, an intense yearning for Wisconsin Bioscope’s pictures would have taken fire around the world, forcing the studio into working double shifts to meet demand, straining our actors’ private lives with unwanted attention from the press and determined young women with autograph books.
Against all odds, this has not occurred.
Wisconsin Bioscope’s business office has analyzed the situation and
determined that our films are being denied a greater public for petty
technical reasons. You see, most theaters use projectors catering to
the talking picture craze, with a smaller frame size (24% smaller =
less quality) and a quicker frame rate (33% faster = more expensive +
sinfully wasteful). A so-called “up-to-date” theater is physically
unable to show our films. Until the fashion for talkies becomes
passé—when the public wakes from nightmare—the Wisconsin
Bioscope is obliged to seek out the few theaters so dedicated to
quality that they have kept the proper equipment in good working order.
Where are these theaters that can show 35mm, full silent aperture, moving pictures at 16 frames-per-second with live musical accompaniment?
We do not know.
|The business office struggled with this new question for weeks until Jimmy, the office boy, piped up and said, “Find the guys who play the music for the pictures. Make them your reps!” So that became our new business plan: Enlist the aid of silent film musicians. They will be the Trojan Horses in whose bellies our pictures shall enter the walls of silent film theaters! Accordingly, the business office set aside a fund for chops, liquor, illicit drugs, and doxies, thinking those the best bait for musicians, being citizens of the demimonde.|
When we propositioned silent film piano players at the Cinematheque and the Giornate, imagine our surprise to discover that all were tea-totalers, vegans, fletcherizers, Mormon missionaries, or rabbinical students! However, although none were tempted by vice, they were universally narcissists and exhibitionists ambitious to appear on the silver screen themselves.
So now we are making pictures that feature silent film musicians. When they are hired to play for Buster Keaton’s The General , King Vidor’s The Crowd, Murnau’s Sunrise, or some other silent feature, they can offer the management a unique extra, a Wisconsin Bioscope short in which they star that will warm up the crowd before the feature.
|Donald Sosin has
accompanied silent films at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney
Museum, the American Museum of the Moving Image, the Pordenone Silent
Film Festival, the Film Society of Lincoln Center, &c .
In 2005, we filmed a version of Daddy Don’t featuring Chicago pianist David Drazin who has since accompanied the film in dozens of performances throughout the United States. Then, in May 2007, we filmed New York pianist Donald Sosin for a role in Rent Party premiering in Pordenone, Italy, in October 2007.
|David Drazin has
accompanied silent films at Cinevent, the Gene Siskel Film Center, the
Pordenone Silent Film Festival, the Silent Film Society of Chicago, the
Cleveland Museum of Art, the UW Cinematheque, &c.
|With the irresistible calling card of their
own genuine Wisconsin Bioscope films, these musicians now find
themselves in GREAT DEMAND, their careers in THE SILENT FILM INDUSTRY
have become JUGGERNAUTS of wealth, glory, and fame.
|Donald Sosin plays a musician in mental torment seen through a keyhole in Rent Party, 2007.
||David Drazin gives advice to an abusive husband in Daddy Don’t, 2005.
|So if you are a silent film musician who could use something extra for your performances, a silent film theater owner who would like to show the latest thing in a classic format, or a silent film festival programmer whose jaded audiences need a jolt, don’t be shy, please contact—|