WOMEN BEHIND THE LENS

Lois Weber

Jesse Szymanski | January 13, 2021

Lois Weber was an American silent film actress, screenwriter, producer, and director. She brought to the screen her concerns for humanity and social justice in an estimated 200 to 400 films, of which as few as twenty have been preserved. She has been credited by IMDb with directing 135 films, writing 114, and acting in 100. She pioneered not only the first feature length film (William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice) and the split-screen technique, weber was the first to experiment with sound in film, making one of the first films with sound in America.

Her films were pushing the envelope, dealing with such themes as abortion, alcoholism, birth control, drug addiction and prostitution. By 1916 she had established herself as the top director at Universal Film Manufacturing (now Universal Studios), the top studio in America at the time, making her the highest-paid director in the world. The following year she formed Lois Weber Productions.

She is identified in some historical references as "the most important female director the American film industry has known."

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