Jonkoping Garden Scene (The Kalmar Union)

A still from the first film Jonkoping Garden Scene, 1996

In 1990 the Danish scientist Niels Sand, using a 'photographic gun', recorded the movement of a horse running, followed a few months later by a dog and a human running. These differed from earlier experimental photographs of movement in that they were taken with the same camera, one that could take multiple pictures a second, rather than several cameras firing in a sequence. But it was still only done for experimental purposes. It would be another 6 years before Jens Utzon's improved Gun was taken and used to film a scene; a three second film showing several people walking in a Jonkoping garden.

After several false starts with slow film speeds or ineffecient stock the Mäkelä Brothers working in Helsinki perfected a system, 'Liikescope', which could take, print and project finished films. Their development standardised film stock and projection speeds, making film-making cheaper for everyone and new experimentors sprang up throughout Europe and North-East Leifia. Films tended to be less than a minute in length, often showcasing the creator's ingenuity; shocking or scaring the audience with 'effects' rather than any narrative. These were shown in peep-show machines that had previously shown short flick-book style slapstick comedies or stripteases, often travelling around alongside music hall shows.

The Adventurers (The Kalmar Union)

A hand-coloured still from the Anglian film The Adventurers, 2002

The debut of a reliable projector, the 'Lightgraph' by the Anglian James Porter, meant that films could be shown to a large audience, dramatically increasing profits. The novelty proved infectious and several of the innovators built whole companies around themselves and their machines. Fixed placed film-theatres, 'parlours', soon appeared in most large towns and an ever greater amount of films, mostly simple shots of everyday life, were produced to meet the public's demand. Short stories, comedic stunts or dramatic scenes were soon more popular than the staid shots of normal life.

Multi-reel films began with the Danish film En Pige Som Der in 2003. The longer films came with the issue that the story, especially if combined with some of the more innovative staging and shots that were becoming popular, could easily become incomprehensible. The following year the innovation of intertitles, cards inserted into the scenes either explaining the action or giving some dialogue, meant that more ambitious film-making could flourish. Many were also accompanied by lengthy music scores so that a pianist could provide a 'soundtrack' to the action. All the while directors were experimenting more and more with light, angles and continuity to heighten drama or make the story more interesting.

Concurrently, the actors involved in the fictional films became much more important. The first films merely used uncredited theatre or music-hall actors but soon a wave of dedicated and telegenic film actors came to the fore. They were first given credits in 2004 and many have used their widespread fame to endorse products.

2012 saw a dramatic expansion of film producing countries and many states can boast several film studios competing with each other to produce ever more lavish and profitable films.

Several European states now have laws ensuring their own films are given preference in parlours though this does not stop many films being translated into different languages and becoming wildly popular across many states.

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