Hollywood almost lost to this city

By Grover Koelpin 100 comments

OK, take a look at that palm tree right over
there. That’s not a California palm tree, it’s
a Florida palm tree. And I’m currently in a city that had more
than 30 movie studios and made 100s of films. This
city was locked in a fight with Hollywood and if it won, it could have changed our culture. But this gutted old movie studio is just about
all that’s left of it today. And the fact that this city lost says something
about early movies and how hard it is for cities to embrace change. But if things had gone just a little differently,
Jacksonville, Florida, might have been the world’s movie capital. This is a typical movie studio around 1910. Notice the ceiling? It’s glass covered by thin paper. Physical film strips at the time needed so
much light that the studios were like greenhouses, and pricey artificial lights were just starting
to get good in the 1910s. Most early American silent movies were made
in New York — and this lighting requirement created some problems. It was just one of the reasons movie studios
felt “the call of jacksonville.” New York’s light didn’t compare to “the
rays of the sun” in warmer climates, and this was especially important with primitive
film. Cold weather also hurt cameras, and cameramen
claimed it caused static that produced cracks and scratches on the film. Location was limited as well. New York could play a city, but producers
wanted to be near beaches and jungles. Jacksonville and LA both did that – but Jacksonville
was a relatively short 26 hour train ride from New York. So it became a winter hub. The Vim headquarters in New York wanted a
presence in Jacksonville, so they set up an outpost, and the famous Thanhouser Film Company
did the same. Massive new studios were built. This is the former home of Eagle Studios — a
Jacksonville native studio —in 1916, where they shot movies like this one: A Bathtub
Elopement, featuring goofy silent film comedian Marcel Perez. This is the production office. This is the safe where they stored flammable
film. And this is the on-lot generator. So why is it empty today? OK, this is almost it. Imagine this happening in your city. Right not I’m at Monroe and Davis in Jacksonville,
where a mob of more than 1,000 extras almost destroyed a saloon while shooting the movie
“The Clarion.” Like, totally destroyed it. OK, do I look like that guy?
“ARGH!” This happened more than once. Here’s a crowd chasing a baby carriage down
the street in downtown Jacksonville. It held a very large “baby.” By the mid-1910s, Jacksonville residents were
starting to get sick of movies overrunning their town. Jacksonville had extended a “genuine welcome”
to film, like Vim Comedy and Eagle Film. The mayor was a film booster who thought film
would bring a “new era to Jacksonville.” He had the support of every production company
in Jacksonville, and the city was set to be a hub. He was up for election in 1917, a year after
that big riot during the shooting of “The Clarion.” Businessmen were behind the mayor and he asked
the people of Jacksonville to vote for him and support the motion picture film companies
he brought in. He lost. It was a vote against corruption, but also
against the movies running wild through Jacksonville. During this time, Hollywood had grown a lot,
despite being further away from New York. Mismanagement of companies in Jacksonville,
World War I, and an influenza outbreak didn’t help the Florida city. There was a lot of bad luck. After the 1917 election, a lot of studios
closed up shop in Florida. The city had, in effect, voted against a future
in movies. In the meantime, hit movies, like those made
by legendary director DW Griffith, had made Hollywood a home for film.. Hollywood was ready to be a movie town. Jacksonville couldn’t make the jump. Jacksonville shows us an alternate universe
for movies. One where different comedy teams became legendary,
where the duo of Laurel and Hardy was “Plump and Runt” instead. And there are other reasons too, beyond movie
stars. That sign up top should say Norman Laboratories. After Eagle Studios closed, a producer named
Richard Norman bought it. While Hollywood made movies featuring actors
in blackface, Norman Studios made films like the Flying Ace, starring heroic black characters,
played by black actors. It was one of a few film studios that focused
on black audiences and black characters, and it sat outside the Hollywood system. It wasn’t the mainstream. If things had gone a little differently in
Jacksonville, our culture could have been shaped by an entirely different set of stories. But instead, all we have are a few restored
films and some buildings that are waiting for the same. Alright, that’s it for this episode in our
series about big changes to movies that came from outside Hollywood. A lot of places have actually started to surpass
Hollywood — there’s Nollywood, there’s Bollywood, there’s Y’allywood — these
are all real, Google them. So I wanna know if you think Hollywood will
endure. Let me know in the comments. I also want to give a shout out to almost
Hollywood by Blair Miller. All those library scenes where I’m looking
up stuff on microfiche, I’m basically looking up footnotes in this book and finding them
in the original newspaper. So if you want to nerd out a lot more on the
history of Jacksonville, Florida, get into the specifics, this is the book for you.


Phil Edwards

Dec 12, 2019, 7:57 pm Reply

This is the last video in this edition about big changes to movies that came from outside Hollywood. Check out the first episode here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMkZpuiEqh8


Dec 12, 2019, 8:58 pm Reply

Nice! Floridian here, never knew about this.

Richard Haywood

Dec 12, 2019, 9:03 pm Reply

Ayyye 904. I could only imagine if Jacksonville was Hollywood 🤔


Dec 12, 2019, 9:04 pm Reply

What is Yollywood? Is that out of Turkey? A google search wasn't too clear.

Sahil Sharma

Dec 12, 2019, 9:09 pm Reply

Please do a video on Bollywood

Becoming Vincent

Dec 12, 2019, 9:11 pm Reply

They also moved west to escape patents


Dec 12, 2019, 9:20 pm Reply

how the hlel u not mention atlantaville and the rise of black film there

The West Virginia Herper

Dec 12, 2019, 9:30 pm Reply

Florida isn’t a city

Jared Rixter

Dec 12, 2019, 9:39 pm Reply

Probably should have at least mentioned Atlanta in the end there. Its pretty clear that the city is surpassing hollywood especially with Tyler Perry's new studios


Dec 12, 2019, 9:42 pm Reply

If ur a fan of the The Good Place, u will know which character is from Jacksonville

joseph jackson

Dec 12, 2019, 9:44 pm Reply

Production companies moved out of Florida because Florida Man drove them out


Dec 12, 2019, 9:52 pm Reply

St. Augustine was also a big hub. The fort, despite being Spanish architecture, was used as a backdrop for many films that were to be set in the middle east and India. Not only that, but the reason why so many studios were looking for warmer climates was because it was very dangerous to film indoors being that the film was highly flammable. So places like Florida and Hollywood were great alternatives being that the weather was warm enough to film outside year long. Not only was Hollywood so far away, initially it was a desert. Once they completed the project to irrigate the valley, it became an actual viable option for permanent studios.


Dec 12, 2019, 9:56 pm Reply

american idol judges:


Shai Belfer

Dec 12, 2019, 10:09 pm Reply


Christian Caurla

Dec 12, 2019, 10:11 pm Reply

As movie nerd, I would add that Hollywood also won BECAUSE it was far from the east coast.
At the time Edison was trying to make everybody pay patent fees for his inventions, but LA was too far away to enforce the patent law.


Dec 12, 2019, 10:12 pm Reply

Film industry folk tried to make something out of New Port Richey, FL in Pasco County as well. Silent film star Gloria Swanson had a Spanish style mansion on the river, among others. Today the community theatre, Richey Suncoast, still remains, and you can see the old style of art deco decor when you visit. There is also a mural depicting some of the famous people from that era on a wall downtown. Some of the mansions are still on the Cotee River, but many were demolished unfortunately. Downtown NPR is making a comeback, in spite of an infamous town nick name: New Port Roxy :/. Anyway, just some fun silent era trivia. Great video! =)

Intergalactic Gamer

Dec 12, 2019, 10:38 pm Reply

There was a time where vox was a force to be reckoned with and politically neutral. It was the example of how media should be. If only it had continued being that light in the darkness.


Dec 12, 2019, 10:46 pm Reply

Now all we have are people screaming "Duuuuval"

John Harris

Dec 12, 2019, 10:47 pm Reply

aah Florida, my favorite city


Dec 12, 2019, 11:01 pm Reply

Thought it’d be Miami 🤷🏻‍♀️

Nixon’s things

Dec 12, 2019, 11:05 pm Reply

Is there a voxville?

Colonel Merkur

Dec 12, 2019, 11:10 pm Reply

Ghallywood is better than Jollywood

Totally Acceptable

Dec 12, 2019, 11:30 pm Reply


The Addict Of Gaming

Dec 12, 2019, 11:32 pm Reply

As a smart monk once told me… JACKSONVILLE!

Brian Smith

Dec 12, 2019, 11:44 pm Reply

As I understand it, California's distance made it harder for Edison's brutal patent enforcement men to smash up cameras. This was detailed in a new documentary on early cinematographers that recently aired on TCM.

Rajas A

Dec 12, 2019, 11:58 pm Reply

Hollywood won't be surpassed as long as the English language stays an universal language.

Christina Lee

Dec 12, 2019, 12:00 am Reply


Best Vids

Dec 12, 2019, 12:11 am Reply

I thought he was going to talk about Hollywood Florida

Wolfiere Labs

Dec 12, 2019, 12:11 am Reply

Hollywood almost lost to this CITY: FLORIDA, say what?

Brooks Clarke

Dec 12, 2019, 12:21 am Reply

Phil and Vox, there is a silent film collective in Jacksonville that performs live music to these films routinely. I was a member of this ensemble under the direction of Tony Steve, and composed music for it with him. You two should really talk, as Professor Steve of Jacksonville University has thousands of archives of the music for these films, as well as more info on Jacksonville’s Silent Film History. For those interested, on my YouTube channel is a rough draft of my score to Ballet Mechanic, which was presented the same night as Trip to The Moon.

A Random Person

Dec 12, 2019, 12:27 am Reply

What about all the movies and TV shows in Georgia

Bruce Lee

Dec 12, 2019, 12:43 am Reply

Source old newspapers. 50% credible

Coco G

Dec 12, 2019, 12:51 am Reply

Florida man wouldn’t allow this.

Ede Mehta Wardhana

Dec 12, 2019, 12:53 am Reply

Does anyone knows where I could get the soundtrack in the opening?
It is very good

Elaine Evans

Dec 12, 2019, 1:00 am Reply


Johnny NiteTrain

Dec 12, 2019, 1:16 am Reply

The new Hollywood is Atlanta, or ATLwood

Steven Khosh

Dec 12, 2019, 1:17 am Reply

You forgot Wakaliwood

Nikanth K

Dec 12, 2019, 1:30 am Reply

Kollywood (Tamil), Tollywood(Telugu), Sandalwood(Kannada)…

There used to be only Bollywood (Bombay) & Kollywood(Kodambakkam, Chennai/Madras) in India. But now we make movies everywhere.

Emma rose

Dec 12, 2019, 1:31 am Reply

and that’s on jason mendoza


Dec 12, 2019, 1:34 am Reply

Lol but Atl coming for Hollywood oop


Dec 12, 2019, 1:36 am Reply

Everyone knows that the true movie capital is Pinewood where they made British classics like The Empire Strikes Back.

Josiah X

Dec 12, 2019, 1:50 am Reply

wOw, never knew that they supported black actors/actresses for filming. This could very well be a great opportunity for black filmmakers/animators to rebuild that part of Jacksonville and create our own film industry, just the historic wealth “Black Wall Street” in Greenwood, Tulsa, Oklahoma. 😎🌴

Steven Leal

Dec 12, 2019, 2:05 am Reply

Oooo speaking of other Hollywoods then maybe a video of Wakaliwood studios could be made

Qiana Butler

Dec 12, 2019, 2:05 am Reply

i was very confused for minute there, i thought this was going to be a video about the city Hollywood, Florida

Darren D. MacDonald

Dec 12, 2019, 2:06 am Reply

North bay Ontario is becoming (if you believe the politicians) Hollywood of the North! I mean… If you ignore Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.
If you watch a recent hallmark Christmas movie, there's a chance it was shot here… Christmas Inheritance is a Netflix original I think was shot here. TV shows hard rock Medical, Cardinal and Carter. But all the keys are brought in from down south with the rest of crew filled in with friends of people on crew. You know the phrase "it's about who you know, not what you know"?… It's like the producers heard that and thought it was manditory

Darren D. MacDonald

Dec 12, 2019, 2:06 am Reply

North bay Ontario is becoming (if you believe the politicians) Hollywood of the North! I mean… If you ignore Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.
If you watch a recent hallmark Christmas movie, there's a chance it was shot here… Christmas Inheritance is a Netflix original I think was shot here. TV shows hard rock Medical, Cardinal and Carter. But all the keys are brought in from down south with the rest of crew filled in with friends of people on crew. You know the phrase "it's about who you know, not what you know"?… It's like the producers heard that and thought it was manditory


Dec 12, 2019, 2:19 am Reply

This series has been really cool.

Steven Becker

Dec 12, 2019, 2:25 am Reply

I live in Hollywood FL. I thought you were gonna start talking about my home town.


Dec 12, 2019, 2:28 am Reply

I sometimes feel like Hollywood is recycling movie concepts and roles year after year with remakes that don’t need to happen and roles and story lines that are a little too similar. I get frustrated because I know there are terrific stories that be adapted from other cultures that could be explored and could be hits, but instead we see more superheroes or another film on the holocaust or another English period film. I
Just want to see more cultural variety.


Dec 12, 2019, 2:38 am Reply

WHERE CAN I GET THIS MUSICS!?!?!?!? Not in Spotify

grace suzanne

Dec 12, 2019, 2:52 am Reply


Ashley Harbin

Dec 12, 2019, 2:59 am Reply


Tony Langford

Dec 12, 2019, 3:58 am Reply

Whattt 9044

Cash Flow Records

Dec 12, 2019, 4:00 am Reply

Yeah, then they wouldn't have been located on their desired earth energy field.

Hong Wuen Law

Dec 12, 2019, 4:20 am Reply

If Jacksonville became Hollywood, would you believe that the civil rights act will come earlier than it did in our timeline?


Dec 12, 2019, 4:20 am Reply

Florida men, rise up!

Oscar Chacon

Dec 12, 2019, 4:25 am Reply

We are in the bad timeline

Matthew Moore

Dec 12, 2019, 4:29 am Reply

Long live Blake Bortles.

Ramshackle Alex

Dec 12, 2019, 4:40 am Reply

Can you imagine Republicans ranting about all those "Jacksonville liberals, forcing their values on us"…

Ramiro jr Zuniga

Dec 12, 2019, 5:39 am Reply

Nice video 👍🏽 i didn’t know that


Dec 12, 2019, 5:48 am Reply

The editing style is awesome


Dec 12, 2019, 6:20 am Reply

when he said jacksonville who else thought of the good place??

Robert Hoople

Dec 12, 2019, 7:21 am Reply

Shout out to Vancouver?


Dec 12, 2019, 7:38 am Reply

As long as we're speculating, I would assume the most obvious difference in this alternative world is the likely absence of Westerns as a genre.


Dec 12, 2019, 8:08 am Reply

oh DIP! JACKSONVILLE! go bortles!

David Ramos

Dec 12, 2019, 8:18 am Reply

Hollywoodn’t 😂😂😂😂😂 yessss props

John Puffer

Dec 12, 2019, 8:49 am Reply

I wonder if a Jacksonville could have provided Los Angeles productive competition if it has embraced a movie future.


Dec 12, 2019, 8:52 am Reply

imagine if jason (from the good place) was a failed actor instead of a failed dancer


Dec 12, 2019, 8:54 am Reply

I’m So Grateful This Didn’t Happen.Our Housing Market Is Perfect Compared To Los Angelos

Baatile Kgosiemang

Dec 12, 2019, 9:06 am Reply


Jamaica Sugar

Dec 12, 2019, 9:11 am Reply

Eeollywood? Iollywood? I looked it up and nothing came up.


Dec 12, 2019, 9:18 am Reply


Jun Dong Koh

Dec 12, 2019, 9:23 am Reply

the music in this one is really good

Jennifer Maldonado

Dec 12, 2019, 9:44 am Reply

Thought this was gonna be about my hometown Hollywood, Florida 😔 got excited and all lol

New Plant

Dec 12, 2019, 9:44 am Reply

"world's movie capital" haha sure

VI Legend

Dec 12, 2019, 9:49 am Reply

Those Florida mans still at 10%

NIRMAL choi Dall poo

Dec 12, 2019, 9:52 am Reply

Do a video about tollywood please


Dec 12, 2019, 10:49 am Reply

You forgot to mention Wakaliwood 🤣🤣🤣


Dec 12, 2019, 10:57 am Reply

As someone who grew up in Jax, I thought y’all were gonna say Orlando. But as a Floridian, we already have to deal with the Florida Man and hurricanes, we pass it on to Cali


Dec 12, 2019, 10:59 am Reply


nopee Nopeee

Dec 12, 2019, 11:24 am Reply

Go to clearwater is a nice place to be
So lovly people
Booming city
No cults
No its damm scary


Dec 12, 2019, 11:36 am Reply

I live just outside of Jax and I didn't know this. I just go in to play poker.

Lemuel Yosheb Bethsebeth

Dec 12, 2019, 11:43 am Reply

Hollywood city is also in Florida.

Matthew Ray

Dec 12, 2019, 11:54 am Reply

Breaking: Los Angeles more racist then Jacksonville


Dec 12, 2019, 12:16 pm Reply

California man vs Florida man


Dec 12, 2019, 12:23 pm Reply



Dec 12, 2019, 12:31 pm Reply


Agent piggles

Dec 12, 2019, 12:51 pm Reply

Bra I love like 20 minutes from Jacksonville and I was like what’s the chance it’s gunna be Jacksonville


Dec 12, 2019, 12:59 pm Reply

bro i live there


Dec 12, 2019, 1:12 pm Reply

I've been saying this for the past couple of years now
Florida/Tampa is the New/East coast hollywood

Blow Wrd.

Dec 12, 2019, 1:36 pm Reply

Black Hollywood winning now 🙌🏽


Dec 12, 2019, 1:39 pm Reply

A lot of those California palm trees came from the Pacific, brought in by developers to make California more desirable as a location to invest in and move to.

Also, a lot of movie studios at the time were like MASH units, ready to run, because Edison demanded a cut from all movie productions, which forced a lot of movie production underground. (The story was that Hollywood, California was named for a street in Chicago where the studio that first came over used to work. Not true because Hollywood was named in the 1880s but ..)

Edu Henrique de Almeida

Dec 12, 2019, 1:42 pm Reply

Jacksonville???? Jason would probably want to make a Jacksonville Jaguars movie

Frank Martinez

Dec 12, 2019, 1:50 pm Reply

Florida is sinking

Toby Wood

Dec 12, 2019, 2:00 pm Reply

Florida Man Destroys Film Archive


Dec 12, 2019, 2:13 pm Reply

Everybody knows that Florida has studios

Gabriel Delgado

Dec 12, 2019, 2:24 pm Reply

Why am i here i’m a new yorker


Dec 12, 2019, 2:35 pm Reply

Can we talk about how amazing the music is in this video.

Rare Mylo

Dec 12, 2019, 4:27 pm Reply

I live in Hollywood Florida. Thought they meant Hollywood, not Jacksonville


Dec 12, 2019, 4:53 pm Reply

Proud to be a Floridian. God bless the peninsula.

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