Consolidated Film and Supply Company

image description
CFSC Advertisement in the Moving Picture World for the Vivaphone

Photo Credit: Moving Picture World, Volume 16, Apr-Jun 1913

Contributors

The Consolidated Film and Supply Company was the Independent exchange of New Orleans. The company supplied material for local Independents and allowed them to “unite forces…to hold their own” against licensed rivals in the distribution market. [1] . The company distributed an array of supplies and capital, including projectors, cameragraphs, vivaphones, film reels, opera chairs, and moving picture theaters. Headquarters were located at 914 Gravier Street in the Central Business District of New Orleans.

Management

Al Shear headed the CSFC until 1917. He resigned to pursue ambitions of creating new theaters, as well as heading his new enterprise, the Rialto Film Company. Henry Peebles of Houston took over the CSFC in 1917. [2]

Distribution

The CSFC was able to do “very good” business as a clearing house. Through the Exchange, Independents could command a sizable share of the distribution market. Shear reported that “new customers are coming in every day” and “purchases have been increased as the Independent manufacturers increase their output” [3] . This success was tied, if only indirectly, to the phenomenal success of Fichtenberg Enterprises, which was a New Orleans exhibition network. Fichtenberg relied exclusively on Independent material.

The Consolidated Film and Supply Company formed offices in Atlanta, Dallas, San Antonio, and Memphis. The company developed specialized departments as it grew. The Southern Theater Equipment Company emerged as the supply department of the CSFC. This fringe company had offices and warerooms in New Orleans, Memphis, Dallas, and Atlanta. [4] . The CSFC even supplied moving picture shows to Naval men, free of charge. [5]

Exchange Men vs. Exhibitors

In 1916, a group of exhibitors from Jackson, Miss. tried to coordinate a meeting with the New Orleans Exchange managers – a group in which Consolidated was a crucial player. The exhibitors aired their complaints concerning what they saw as iniquitous, inconvenient and predatory practices on the part of the exchangemen towards small exhibitors. The New Orleans Exchange managers came out in force, which caused the exhibitors to drop their complaint. This event prompted an article in Moving Picture World to note that “the exchange men adopted the force of numbers tactics in the threatened warfare. It worked and once again Napoleon’s well-known assertion about victory being with the man who had the heaviest artillery failed to secure a practical demonstration” [6] .

This failed confrontation demonstrated the power politics involved in the film market. Exhibitors, Independents, and Licensed distributors alike were constantly maneuvering to secure the best deals for themselves based on the strength of their respective contingent. This practice often lead to the formerly disadvantaged to form unions and associations, as exhibitors later did, to better protect their interests.

High Taxes

Each film exchange in New Orleans faced an annual tax, from both the city and state. The taxes were “based on a fair price per one thousand feet of film.” Al G. Shear was not satisfied with this “onerous taxation,” so he “‘went to the mat,’” took the case to court, and won. The judge decided that “a reel of film was worth from $15 to $30, the exact valuation being based on the physical condition of the reel.” Companies that protested in court included General, Consolidated, V-L, S-E, Paramount, Mutual, Fox, Pathe and World. [7]

Production Studios

The Consolidated Film and Supply Company worked with larger studios, such as Universal, as well smaller ones, such as Great Northern Films and Bison Films. The CSFC owned the rights to distribute some of these studios’ films to exhibitors in the Southern region, which occasionally stretched to encompass South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas [8] [9] .
By 1916, Consolidated was competing with several other New Orleans exchanges for control over the Independent market, including World Exchange, Metro, Paramount, and Maray Pickford [10] .

Works Cited* “The Moving Picture in the South,” Moving Picture World, 1912:107
  • “Interesting News About Local Film Happenings,” New Orleans Item, August 26, 1917.
  • “New Orleans,” Moving Picture World, 1912:220
  • “Supply House Consolidation,” Moving Picture World Vol. 28, p. 485, 1916.
  • “Women Entertainment Camp” The Times-Picayune, June 11, 1917.
  • “Jackson Meeting That Failed,” Moving Picture World Vol. 30, p1210, 1916.
  • “High Tax in New Orleans,” Moving Picture World Vol. 28, p. 1711, 1916.
  • Universal Advertisement, Moving Picture World Vol. 12 p1194, 1912.
  • Advertisement, Moving Picture World Vol. 12 p 657, 1912.
  • “Jackson Meeting Failed,” Moving PIcture World Vol. 30 p1210, 1916.

This page was last modified on 24 February 2013, at 10:18

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Consolidated Film and Supply Company

720 Maison Blanche, New Orleans, LA

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Consolidated Headquarters

914 Gravier Street