Doing research in trade journals I once came across an article featuring photos of the premises of a distributor. Before that I actually knew almost nothing about distributors apart from the obvious historic legacy like ads, texts and promotional material that usually revolves around the films rather than people and the space behind it. Therefore a peek inside is mend as a category of stories that will give an unusual glimpse into to microcosm of film distribution.
Martin Dentler, Braunschweig
The following photos accompanied an article about the visit to the distributor Martin Dentler that was published in April 1912 in the German trade journal Lichtbild-Bühne.1Lichtbild-Bühne, 06/04/1912, no. 14, p. 25–27, available at archive.org Not only picturing the words of the author they very well represent the divers tasks and activities of a distributor.
Martin Dentler was situated in Brunswick (Autorstraße 3). The office was located in a districted south of the city center. Starting at the central station it could be reached by bus in about five minutes.
His first cinema was opened at the end of Mai in 1906 and alongside he established his distribution business.2Der Kinematograph, 05/23/1926 , no. 1005, p. 19, available at archive.org Apparently the business flourished over the years and by spring 1912 almost 100 people were working for Dentler according to the article. That number includes apart from his distribution business personal for his four cinemas.
A peek inside
The article starts with private office of Martin Dentler. Behind the man in the photo (presumably Dentler himself) there is a sign with a saying on the wall. It reads as Gebrauche deine Kraft, man lebt nur, wenn man schafft! which translates to use your strengh, you‘ll only live through doing. Apparently this phrase was authored by Ernst Freiherr von Feuchtersleben, an Austrian writer.
In the left and right corner ribbons are placed. Though the image is black and white the appear to show the national colours black, white and red. Similar ribbons can be seen in others rooms as well.
The tour continues in the department for Monopolfilms where according to the article Gustav Heidemann and Rudolf Dentler jun. are present. They were responsible for this part of the business.
Accounting department and press office. Present for obvious reasons. Four employees were tasked to deal with Dentler‘s correspondence.
The business featured a very own projection room which was organised by Dentlers wife.
The department for programming was occupied by seven employees. For easier means of communication a telephone booth was integrated into this room.
The advertising department which was held by Dentlers son-in-law A. Wüstefeld and a certain Mr. Meyering.
The photo features a poster promoting Gefährlicher Liebeskampf zweier Frauen, a film made by Messter Projection, Berlin staring Henny Porten.3Lichtbild-Bühne, 12/15/1915, no. 50, p. 26, available at archive.org At the ende of 1911 it was distributed exclusively as Monopolfilm by Dentler under the label Dentlers Monopolfilm No. 54Lichtbild-Bühne, 11/11/1911, no. 45, p. 2, available at archive.org or alternatively as Edition Dentler5Lichtbild-Bühne, 04/11/1911, no. 44, p. 22, available at archive.org.
The packing department was responsible for the shipment of films.
The department with the purpose of repairing and cleaning returned films.
The iron shelfs used to store films. The cans appear to be of smaller diameter.
- 1Lichtbild-Bühne, 06/04/1912, no. 14, p. 25–27, available at archive.org
- 2Der Kinematograph, 05/23/1926 , no. 1005, p. 19, available at archive.org
- 3Lichtbild-Bühne, 12/15/1915, no. 50, p. 26, available at archive.org
- 4Lichtbild-Bühne, 11/11/1911, no. 45, p. 2, available at archive.org
- 5Lichtbild-Bühne, 04/11/1911, no. 44, p. 22, available at archive.org