If only The Essanay Film Manufacturing Company (1907-1925) was in existence today, perhaps we'd have at least one studio focused on producing original works. That's what we might think after seeing a manuscript rejection slip from Essanay currently making the Internet rounds (originally scanned and uploaded by Old Hollywood from the book 'Silent Movies: The Birth of Film and the Triumph of Movie Culture'). The notice lists a number of possible reasons why a screenwriter's submission could have been declined, and the studio would check off their reason(s). The receiver of this rejection apparently sent in something unoriginal and so got the "idea has been done before" line checked off.

The slip also has another line for "not original," which confuses the meaning behind the checked off reason. It also implies that Essanay really liked originality. Of course, if you were as big as Charlie Chaplin, you could certainly turn in a remake ('In the Park' is often considered a redo of his directorial debut, 'Twenty Minutes of Love,' which he made at Keystone). Those of you unhappy with the quality of movie ideas and output of today will likely also get a kick out of excuses like "weak plot," "improbable," "too conventional" and "no adaptations desired." Of course, the notice does make the studio seem interested in action, but nothing too unpleasant, and they weren't down for period pieces and foreign-set works.
categories Cinematical