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The Birth of a Nation Story

also see photocopied pages

sound put on the film in the 1930s
Birth financed by Harry and Roy Aitken in 1913-14 when Majestic Film Company voted not to finance the film
brothers raised the initial 59K to finance the film
DWG to the Aitkens: "The real story of the Reconstruction has never been filmed." (p. 25)
DWG's initial estimate: 40K to make the film
Dixon wanted 25K, but instead got 25% royalty (since the cash was unavailable) which turned into $750,000
Dixon formed his own motion picture company, the National Drama Corporation and wrote The Fall of a Nation (which was a box office failure) (p.36)
Dixon wrote a second Birth photoplay in 1936 but the Aitkens were unable to raise the money (p.36)–Dixon still got paid ($2500 for it) (p.92)
DWG lived at the Alexandria hotel during the production of Birth
Birth was filmed with a single camera
16,000 men playing soldiers
while Adolph Zukor offered DWG 1K/wk, Aitken at Majestic offered him $300/wk with a special provision for him to make 2 special films per year (Birth was one of these)
DWG started selling stock when the money ran out, thsu 110K spend in the end
Dixon came up with the new title after seeing the LA premiere
DWG had no money invested in Birth
$2 a ticket for admission in NY
Aitkens formed the Epoch Producing Corporation in order to distribute Birth
shown to Pres. Wilson between LA premiere and NY opening
p. 52 publicity people hired white-robed horsemen to gallop down the streets of a city to the theater where Birth was showing
innovation: night photography
Bitzer filmed from a hole in the ground as Klan rode over top
Louis B. Mayer contracted for the New England distribution rights and made 1/2 million which he used to move to Hollywood and eventually started his own studio which later became MGM
estimated $50,000,000 gross from 1915-1960 but its hard to tell since some of the regional distributors might have pocketed the money, and since duplicates were made and distributed without the Aitkens' knowledge
horses were filmed at a faster speed
new edits were made to reduce the running time when music soundtrack was added in the 1930s, but profits were low
Aitken donated a master print to MOMA
1954 deal for a remake fell through

ELS