Léo-Ernest Ouimet

About Léo-Ernest Ouimet

Who is it?: Director, Cinematographer, Producer
Birth Day: March 16, 1877
Birth Place: Laval, Québec, Canada

Léo-Ernest Ouimet

Leo-Ernest Ouimet, the French Canadian film pioneer who built the first, first-rate movie cathedral that was the...
Léo-Ernest Ouimet is a member of Director

Does Léo-Ernest Ouimet Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, Léo-Ernest Ouimet has been died on 2 March, 1972 at Québec, Canada.

🎂 Léo-Ernest Ouimet - Age, Bio, Faces and Birthday

When Léo-Ernest Ouimet die, Léo-Ernest Ouimet was 95 years old.

Popular As Léo-Ernest Ouimet
Occupation Director
Age 95 years old
Zodiac Sign Pisces
Born March 16, 1877 (Laval, Québec, Canada)
Birthday March 16
Town/City Laval, Québec, Canada
Nationality Canada

🌙 Zodiac

Léo-Ernest Ouimet’s zodiac sign is Pisces. According to astrologers, Pisces are very friendly, so they often find themselves in a company of very different people. Pisces are selfless, they are always willing to help others, without hoping to get anything back. Pisces is a Water sign and as such this zodiac sign is characterized by empathy and expressed emotional capacity.

🌙 Chinese Zodiac Signs

Léo-Ernest Ouimet was born in the Year of the Ox. Another of the powerful Chinese Zodiac signs, the Ox is steadfast, solid, a goal-oriented leader, detail-oriented, hard-working, stubborn, serious and introverted but can feel lonely and insecure. Takes comfort in friends and family and is a reliable, protective and strong companion. Compatible with Snake or Rooster.

Some Léo-Ernest Ouimet images

Leo-Ernest Ouimet, the French Canadian film pioneer who built the first, first-rate movie cathedral that was the forerunner for all the huge North American movie palaces that came after it, was born in Laval, Quebec, north of Montreal, in 1877.

Educated as an electrical engineer, he entered show business by chance in 1901, when Montreal's Le Theatre National contracted with the 24-year old engineer to rewire its theater. In just two days, Ouiment not only rewired the theater, but he installed a lighting system of his own devising that wowed the theater patrons and critics.

Quebec City theater-owner Paul Cazeneuves hired him to do the same for his Le Cartier Theatre, and the results were even more astonishing.The next step in Ouimet's metamorphosis into a movie pioneer was his engagement by Le Theatre National as a lighting designer.

His acquaintance with the movies was about to begin, as Quebec law forbade Le Theatre National from operating on Sundays in any closed venue. To get around the provincial blue laws, Le Theatre performed in Montreal's Sohmers Park on Sundays.

The park, which featured a 5,000-seat, open-air pavilion, began showing animated movies between intermissions in 1902. The park projectionist, an American yclept Ben Fenton, taught Ouimet about the projector, an Edison Co.

kinetoscope. Intrigued, Ouiment soon bought one himself.Ouiment became a representative for Edison for Eastern Canada, and subsequently, he opened up his own Ouimet Film Exchange to distribute films. His fascination with film encouraged him to make his own films, mostly short subjects, and by 1904, he had become an innovator in the world of cinema.

During the Canadian general election in November 1904, he used his kinetoscope to project election returns onto a white sheet tacked to the front wall of the Montreal newspaper Le Patrie. He took the opportunity afforded by this all-day exhibition to recalibrate and fine-tune the kinetoscope to produce a better image.

He began traveling with his improved kinetoscope to give exhibitions of films, drawing large crowds, primarily from the working class, who could not afford the luxury of the legitimate theater or vaudeville.

In 1906, Ouimet converted an abandoned cabaret on Ste.-Catherine St. into a 500-seat nickelodeon.As movie theater impresario Marcus Loew had said, "We sell tickets to theaters, not movies." His Loew's Inc.

own and ran Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as a subsidiary from its New York headquarters. Hundreds of movie theaters eventually were constructed in Canada in the period of 1910 through 1930, mostly in Ontario and Quebec.

Filmmaking was literally the tail that wound up wagging the dog, as in the early days of the cinema, most filmmakers got into the barely acknowledged "Seventh Art" as a means of ensuring product for their theaters.

Due to the dominance of the Edison Patent Trust over cameras, projection equipment (the kinetoscope), and film stock, many a would-be movie entrepreneur had to resort to "inventing" their own equipment from extant models, and importing their film stock from overseasLike the later innovation Technicolor, which tightly controlled the use of its product, mandating Technicolor consultants on films using its cameras and color stock ensure that the aesthetic results fell within the accepted corporate parameters, Edison too controlled the aesthetic use of his product.

No film could be more than one reel, and the facility for projection equipment to throw a large picture was restricted, in order to keep the venues small.Quebec native Ouimet was no different than the entrepreneurs outside the Edison Trust who made a go of it south of the border.

He modified the kinetoscope that he had bought from Edison to improve its luminosity, and he improved the claw-mechanism for advancing film before the shutter to reduce its habit of damaging the negative.

He also added a second shutter to reduce the optical glitch that gave rise to the early movies being called "flickers" by the anglophones. He so modified his original projector, he dubbed his "new" creation the Ouimetoscope, which he used to project film images on a larger screen than was possible before his transformation of Edison's contraption.

Many other pioneers in North America were doing the same, modifying Edison's kinetoscope or other projectors illegally imported from Europe, then making films and showing them with their bespoke equipment to crowds starved for entertainment.

Where Ouimet bested the entrepreneurs in the lower 48 was in his ability to project a larger image while not sacrificing quality. This enabled him to build what was at the time the largest movie theater in the world.

Tearing down his old theater, Ouimet constructed a 1,200-seat cathedral of cinema he called, after his projector, the Ouimetoscope. He brought to Montreal the first movie theater constructed as lavishly as any first-rate, legitimate house.

His mission was "to provide the best moving pictures and illustrated song exhibition that can be provided." The theater not only was huge, but it was air-conditioned, a first for a movie palace. The Ouimetoscope was opened on August 31, 1907.

According to Toronto film historian Hye Bossin in the 1950s, the Ouimet was the first movie showcase to challenge the legitimate theater by offering movie patrons first-class comfort and appointments at a reasonable price that the average citizen could afford.

Bossin said that the Ouimetoscope theater was unique, as it was a testament to Ouimet's belief that the movies, as an art and as an industry, were not a fad, but were here to stay. Many entrepreneurs, like Loew, bought up old vaudeville houses in order to present their pictures, but they hedged their bets by continuing to offer live entertainment between shows.

In fact, the process of offering live entertainment at the Loew's Inc. chain of 400 theaters lasted until Marcus Loew's death in 1927. Loew was never a gambler, and was unsure whether the movie boom would go bust, even after twenty years in the industry.

Ouimet was committed to a quality experience for his patrons, hiring the best musicians to accompany the silent films. He booked only the best movies, and carefully planned each showcase. Ouiment even published a program for his audience, akin to the show bills distributed at legitimate theaters.

A Quebecker, Ouimet also was committed to the francophone cinema, bringing in pictures from France for his Montreal audience, and translating the inter-titles of English-language films into French. He was truly the father of Quebec cinema, an idealist as well as a business-cum-showman.

Increasingly, just like Canadian cinema today, Ouimet faced fierce competition from the studios in the U.S., who flooded the province with product. In addition, Ouimet had to face the economic backlash caused by a conservative Catholic clergy, who inveigled against movie-going on Sundays, and successfully lobbied the provincial government to ban Sunday-showings of films.

It was an ordinance that lasted until the 1960s, when, after a social revolution that saw the dawn of French Canadian nationalism, as noted in Denis Arcand's Oscar-wining "The Barbarian Invasions" (2002), the good people of la belle province split with the church and its patrimony.

Worn out from the battles with New York- and Hollywood-based movie-makers, fed up with the interference from the church, Ouimet sold his theater, which was renamed Le Canadien after his departure. Quebec's movie pioneer said "au revoir" to the province and decamped for Hollywood in 1922, where he formed a production company, Laval Photoplays, that made "Why Get Married?" The film was not as big a success as Ouimet anticipated, and he abandoned commercial movie-making.

Returning to Montreal, he leased a movie theater on Bleury Street, but he was financially ruined in 1935 after two people were killed in a fire at his movie house, and he was successfully sued by their survivors.

Ouimet retired from the industry he loved forever, though he continued to experiment with movie technology. He took a job as a store manager for the Quebec Liquor Commission.Leo-Ernest Ouimet died on March 2nd, 1972, at the age of 94.

He did not die unhonored, as Le Canadien was renamed Ouimetoscope in 1966. The federal government at this time was undertaking the biggest building boom of cinemas since the initial 20-year boom was crushed by the Great Depression, erecting cultural centers with cinemas to commemorate the 1967 Centennial of the Confederation in 1967.

A year after the centennial celebrations, which put Montreal on the international map with Expo '67, the last great World's Fair, Cinematheque canadienne put a plaque on the Ouimetoscope building to commemorate the 60th anniversary of its opening.

Thus, in his old age, during a revival of French Canadian identify that would revolutionize Quebec's relations with the rest of the Confederation, the province remembered Ouimet. It remembered the old gentilhomme not just for bringing bonhomie to his `patrie,' but for his technical innovations and for his faith in the future of cinema.

It hailed him for opening up the province of Quebec to the world, and for making the world cognizant of Quebec, all through the magic lantern that was the Ouimetoscope.

Léo-Ernest Ouimet Movies

  • Les funérailles de Sir Wilfrid Laurier (1919) as Director
  • Why Get Married? (1924) as Producer
  • Mes espérances en 1908 (1908) as Director
  • Quebec: The Tercentenary Celebrations (1908) as Director

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