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Celebrating African American Trailblazers in the Film Industry: William D. Foster

Posted by Kim Moseman on February 21, 2022

As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, we are highlighting the African American trailblazers who made history in the film industry. Next up, is William D. Foster, who was the first African American to start a film production organization in 1910.

2.21 William D. Foster

Not much is known about Foster’s early life. Using the pen name of Juli Jones, he first worked as an actor and a journalist. Often going as just ‘Bill’, his first film was The Railroad Porter (also known as The Pullman Porter).

Foster was the first African American to establish a movie production organization, The Foster Photoplay Company, in 1910. Although his company only lasted a few years, Foster managed to accomplish a number of firsts that paved the way for the 20th century “race film” industry. Race films provided Black audiences with realistic alternatives to demeaning Hollywood stereotypes from 1913-1950.

By 1917, Foster shut down his company. He then worked as a distribution manager for the Chicago Defender and later produced some musical shorts with Black artists in Hollywood during the sound era. A later attempt to establish a new film production company failed. However, Foster’s foot-in-the-door achievement had set an important example for future race film producers. William D. Foster died in Los Angeles in 1940 at the age of 79.

You can check out our other posts about the groundbreaking African Americans who have made history in the film industry here on Blog Central. And if you’d like to learn more about the new services we are offering here at Crews Control or discuss your next great video shoot, contact your production manager or click here to fill out our free quote form.  

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