Moving Picture Company
He wanted to make his own movies...which he did...in his backyard
Benjamin Chapin Studio
aka Charter Film
113 2nd St., Ridgefield, NJ
Benjamin Chapin, a very minor mogul in every respect, had a vanity studio in his backyard, where his garage should have been. Chapin hoped a series of short subjects would propel him to the greatness afforded the major moguls. Alas, it was not to be.
Chapin, born August 9, 1872 in Bristolville, Ohio, bore a striking resemblance to Abraham Lincoln. He used that likeness to produce a series of short subjects called "The Lincoln Cycle."
As an concept, he was quite ahead of his time. The majority of movies at the time were linear. They progressed along a chronology, a time line. "The Lincoln Cycle," more resembled a serial, like "The Perils of Pauline" or "Flash Gordon," whose chapters followed one another in chronological order. "The Lincoln Cycle" did not follow a chronology, but instead each one played on a single, stand alone theme. As well, each moved between Lincoln's contemporaneous time and flashbacks to earlier times in Lincoln's life. Each film stood on its own and was not dependent on the others for comprehension. This was nearly unique for the period.
Chapin, who formed Charter Features Company in 1913 for the purpose of producing "The Lincoln Cycle,"has been criticized for presenting his films as his sole creation. The credits only listed himself when clearly he employed other cast members and a director, none of whom initially received screen credit. While this criticism had merit, the movies were clearly his vision and, as a vision, he should be given considerable credit. Selfishly, however, he did not give other credit they deserved..
Of particular note was that noted screen director John Stahl, who went on to considerable fame, including owning his own Hollywood studio, was the actual director of more than one film in the series at the beginning of his career.
Even thought"The Lincoln Cycle" was to continue, it ended abruptly in 1918 when Chapin died of tuberculosis on June 18.
Following Benjamin Chapin's death "The Lincoln Cycle" was repackage and released by Paramount as "Sons of Democracy."