Machin and Other Foreign Filmmakers

Between 1907 and 1914, the Netherlands was visited by a number of foreign filmmakers. The Belgian cameraman Alfred Machin was one of the first to do so; in 1909 he came to the Netherlands to shoot for Pathé Frères. This resulted in Comment se fait le fromage de Hollande, a short film about cheese manufacturing and selling in the Netherlands with windmills, traditional dress, clogs and the Alkmaar cheese market as the picturesque background.

These things made this film so attractive in other countries: the Dutch landscape, customs and traditional attire were as exotic to them as films from Italy, Spain and North Africa were to the Dutch.  

Regular visitors

In those years, cameramen from Great Britain, France and Germany regularly travelled to the Netherlands to shoot films. Examples include Ein Streifzug durch Holland  by the French film company Raleigh & Roberts, Leben und Treiben in Holland  by Karl Werner Film (Germany), Panorama von Delft by Martin Dentler (Germany) and Volendam on the Zuyder Zee by the British company Cricks & Martin.

Most films, however, were made by Pathé Frères (France). This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Pathé had opened a sales branch in 1905 in Amsterdam and, later, in Rotterdam. It was easy to use this branch as an operating base for Pathé’s cameramen.

Starting in 1911, Pathé began to use a more systematic approach and Hollandsche Film was founded as Pathé’s Dutch production branch (Pathé had its own production departments in other countries as well). Alfred Machin returned to the Netherlands as director, along with cameraman Paul Sablon and a number of actors and actresses. Working together, they shot a total 13 short feature films. Most of these take place in a characteristically Dutch landscape, for example in Volendam, and focus on subjects such as the fishing industry, agriculture or Dutch history. 

Local colour

These films were intended primarily for screening outside of the Netherlands, where the Dutch couleur locale was considered exotic. One film, however, was made for the Dutch market as well: Het vervloekte geld, with the famous actor Louis Bouwmeester as the main character.

In 1913, Machin returned to the Netherlands once again, this time to shoot La fille de Delft for the Belgian Pathé branch, Belge-Cinéma Film. This was to be a full-length feature film filled with farmers, a country girl, and perpetually spinning windmills. 

First Dutch-German co-production

Besides Pathé, there were also a number of German film companies in the Netherlands during those years. While working in the fishing villages on the Zuider Zee, they shot Des Meeres und der Liebe wellen and Auf einsamer Insel.  

The director of this last film, Joseph Delmont, was also responsible for the German production of Der geheimnisvolle Klub, which was recorded in 1913 in Scheveningen and Rotterdam, among other places. This film was released in the Netherlands with the title De geheime club by distributor Jean Desmet. Desmet was also possibly involved as co-producer of the film, which would make it the first Dutch-German co-production.  


more information

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