Sagar Mitchell and James Kenyon were pioneer British filmmakers, active during the first decade of the twentieth century. Operating chiefly in Northern England, they filmed the daily activities of local people, encouraging interaction between subject and camera. They would then develop their films for rapid exhibition, often later the same day. Their audience paid to see themselves as subjects on the screen. Mitchell and Kenyon’s work thus foreshadows social media, creating an interactive experience that professional filmmaking later discarded – and which was not fully re-appropriated until the era of Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

Richard Reynolds teaches at Central Saint Martins in London. He is also a writer, occasional broadcaster and ex-publisher. His research interests include comics, graphic novels, film, and the practice of psycho-geography.

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Sagar Mitchell & James Kenyon: Edwardian cinema as social media | by Richard Reynolds