Roll Camera

You aced your first screen test! Your new agent gushes that you've got the looks and charisma to be a star. She also added that your squeaky voice could curdle milk... Good thing these motion pictures don't have sound!

You have a choice in making your first film: should it be a one-reel comedy for $50 (enough to pay your rent!) or a dramatic feature film for $250?

Choose your first project:

Snapshot: 1909 Nickelodeon Era

Nickelodeon Era

Nickelodeons -- movie theaters that show an evening of programs for as little as a nickel -- pop up in small towns, often in converted store fronts and lecture halls.

10,000 nickelodeons have already opened across the nation.

Short films -- one-reelers and two-reelers -- are popular.

One reel of film runs about 12-14 minutes -- depending on how fast it is projected.

Inventor Thomas Edison and a group of east coast film producers form The Motion Picture Patents Company, known as "The Trust."

Director D. W. Griffith's film, "The Lonely Villa," features cross-cutting: switching between two simultaneous actions for dramatic effect.