The question may never be answered whether or not Alice Guy was the first director or the first female director, but I am just going to say she was the first director. Male or female.
Her impressive body of work has been nearly forgotten. This is sad because she was a remarkable woman.
Alice Guy worked in France for a still-photographer. When introduced to the idea of motion pictures, Alice was the first to suggest that people might really enjoy it if these moving pictures told a story. While most brushed off the idea and thought nothing of it, Alice proceeded. She created the title of Director. When directing and working the camera became too difficult and she could not work closely enough with the actors, she appointed a camera operator.
She pioneered so much of what we know of film now. This is why her story ending on such tragic terms is heart wrenching.
After Alice married, her husband was sent by her former employer to New York to run a studio. Being a faithful wife came with the dreadful task of leaving behind her tremendous success in France. After some time in New York, Guy decided that her husband could have been making more pictures and felt the studio was going to waste. She asked for some creative control and was eventually given a lot more responsibility.
She and her husband created their own studio called Solax. This was a personal endeavor for the couple and was successful in its own right.
Sadly, the success in New York did not last long, and eventually, Guy’s husband ran off with a younger actress. Guy was left with no work. She traveled back to France to look for work there and was unable to find any.
I think this story is the epitome of the phrase “Life isn’t fair.” I hope that anyone who reads this learns a bit about what an amazing person Alice Guy was. Funny that the male-dominated motion picture industry we know today started off with one brilliant woman.
On behalf of all movie lovers: Alice, we thank you!
(Click on the photo above to read more of her amazing story.)