Academic journal article Oregon Historical Quarterly

Early Motion Picture

Academic journal article Oregon Historical Quarterly

Early Motion Picture

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

EARLY MOTION PICTURE photographers had to have sound nerves as well as an eye for the interesting and newsworthy. Their heavy wooden cameras had only one lens, so getting a close photograph involved moving the camera near the subject. Sometimes this led to problems.

Jesse Sill was one of the premier cameramen in the Pacific Northwest. He taught himself photography around 1912 and was soon free lancing for filmmakers around the area. As part of the 1913 Walla Walla rodeo entertainment, a bear ran down the track until it was roped by one of the cowboys. After several unsuccessful efforts, he finally was getting the shot when, as he told the Oregonian years later, "he realized that the bear was right on top of him. So he turned and ran with the bear right on his heels. Later, Jesse found that the horseman had roped the bear, but held him just inches from Sill as the animal chased the cameraman down the track" (July 15, 1972).

Sill had several close calls while filming. At the Pendleton Round-Up, he was filming close-ups of the stagecoach race when one of the competitors lost control of his team. …

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