The Alaska-Siberian Expedition is a six-reel record of the Carnegie Museum expedition led by Frank E. Kleinschmidt, and when the film first opened in New York in May 1912 it was accompanied with a live lecture by Kleinschmidt (who also photographed the film). Atop the World in Motion is discussed elsewhere in this chapter. Paul J. Rainey was a wealthy Cleveland businessman who died on his ranch in Nairobi in 1923. Paul J. Rainey's African Hunt is a record of an African safari in which Rainey used packs of dogs to hunt wildlife that he and his fellow hunters could then shoot.
Because the non-theatrical film as such did not exist in 1912, the films just mentioned fall only coincidentally into the non-theatrical genre. The first attempt to produce a non-theatrical feature came in 1923 when Homestead Films, Inc., of Chicago, which had been formed two years earlier, released The Brown Mouse, advertised as "A real feature for the Non-Theatrical field." No record of the cast, technical crew, or subject matter of the film has been located.
It was more than twenty years before another attempt was made to produce an entertainment feature exclusively for the non-theatrical market. In 1944, Major 16mm Productions released a Western titled Sundown Riders, directed by veteran Lambert Hillyer (who had once worked with William S. Hart) and starring Russell Wade, Jay Kirby, and Andy Clyde. Financed by H. V. George, the feature was shot over an eight-day period in 16mm Kodachrome at a cost of $30,000, considerably less than a black- and-white 35mm Western feature of the same period would have cost to produce.
Sundown Riders was advertised as "the first feature length entertainment picture made by and with professionals and offered for unrestricted exhibition." In its review, Variety ( October 11, 1944) concentrated on the unique nature of the production: "For years the industry has not only bypassed the rapidly-expanding 16mm field, but has built up resistance to making features available for that branch of the business. A few companies and producers make features available to the miniature field, but only after two or more years [from the original release of the films]. Even the aged subjects have, in many instances, returned surprising grosses from the home, school, and institution circuits."
Feature-length non-theatrical production might be slow in coming and remain virtually experimental throughout the entire history of the genre, but short subject production could only expand in the decades ahead.