It’s just something I heard at an artist’s gathering in – of all places – downtown Los Angeles. I was attending a signing event for creative entrepreneurs, zine writers and authors.
You never know when you’re going to find out that someone is from Long Beach. I was hanging with Ren Hanami, David Kono and Don Schmidt. I found out that all have lived in Long Beach at some point in time, some longer than others. David remembers the old drive-in which was near where the Lakewood Blvd/PCH traffic circle is now. His memory precedes the traffic circle. I expect I will be talking more to David Kono.
Actress, director and author Ren Hanami (left), Actor and producer David Kono – Flying Dragon Productions (center) and artist, illustrator & sensei Don Schmidt (right) at CALE event, at the center: A Place Called Home.
Long Beach is well known for its’ creative community. Ren informed me of a surprising fact. Before there was Hollywood, there was Long Beach! I quickly tried finding out which movie studios were in Long Beach. I found an article on a website called LA Almanac which tells of the Long Beach movie heritage. This article in turn cites archives hosted by California State University, Long Beach.
Here is the lineup:
California Motion Picture Manufacturing Company (1910, first studio west of Chicago)
International Moving Picture Company in Long Beach (1911, a joint American-Japanese filmmaking venture). In 1913, the Edison Company purchased the studio and made films there. I have more thoughts about Edison’s films – another time.
Balboa Studios was formed from the International Moving Picture Company later in 1913 and was the most productive independent studio in the world from 1918 until 1923, producing comedies, westerns and adventure films. From 1918 to 1923, it was known as Long Beach Studios. Since ‘talkies’ started in 1927, the Balboa Studios movies must have all been silent films. By 1923, when the Long Beach Studios ended, Hollywood had become established, and property in Long Beach and Signal Hill was increasing in value. The studio land was sold and cleared for subdivision.
Ren Hanami and Don Schmidt (pictured above) are creators of children’s book, Ninja Mom and the Tengonis in the Tiki.