Cecil Hepworth came to moving pictures from a background of
Magic Lanterns. His father was a popular magic lantern entertainer
and it was here that a young Hepworth developed an interest
in projecting pictures.
His childhood was spent assisting his father
with his lantern shows and toured the country attending many
lectures. His interest in the projection of both still and
moving picture continued when in 1896 he began touring with
his own mixed slide and film show.
His technical knowledge of photography equipment
and the art of moving pictures, built up from the many lectures
he attended as a child, led Hepworth to publish the first
handbook on the medium of film entitled 'Animated Photography'
and it was in 1898 when he began making films for Charles
Urban, who had recently arrived in London as manager of what
would eventually become the Warwick Trading Company.
Hepworth set up a laboratory in 1899 and by
1900 he was releasing a hundred films a year. He was primarily
a producer more than an actual film-maker but did on occasion,
write, direct, edit, photograph and star in many films, however
many of the films credited to him were in fact the work of
his associated Percy Slow and Lewin Fitzhamon, the latter
co-directed perhaps Hepworth’s most celebrated work 'Rescued
by Rover' (1905) as well as other inventive comic films such
as 'The Other Side of the Hedge'(1905) and 'That Fatal Sneeze'
Hepworth was a dedicated film pioneer and the
driving force, many believe, behind the origins of the British
Hepworth’s skill with publicity and his ability
to charm his stars to appear in many of his films made his
company the only British Film Company to compete well with
the wealth of foreign imported films.
He returned to directing in 1914 and continued
into the 1920’s where he began to fall behind the times in
terms of film techniques - it was this that contributed to
his bankruptcy in 1924. He ended his film career directing
trailers and advertisements.
Hepworth died in 1953 aged 79.