Mack Sennett was one of the first producers of commercial motion pictures. He was the creator of the “Keystone Kops” shorts, among many others.
100 years ago, he heard of an English vaudevillian touring the country that was packing houses. So he hired him to make comedies.
Chaplin quickly learned the craft of making movies. But even though the pay was very good, he found something was missing.
He himself called the Sennett studio a “film factory.” You show up for work, put out a product and go home to repeat the process another day.
One film a week. Week after week after week.
Chaplin recognized that film is an emotional medium. The moving image tricks the brain into feeling you are actually there, experiencing what the actors are experiencing, feeling what they feel.
He also recognized that you can’t really make an emotional connection using a product created by an industrial method.
That’s why he created his own studio.
That’s why he carefully crafted each of his relatively few films and released them years apart.
You can certainly deliver an emotional product like film (or medicine) in an industrial manner.
The problem is that the customer will quickly see through the falsity of the product and regard it with detachment and cynicism.
From a business aspect, that’s ok as long as you’re in an industry being showered with cash.
Unfortunately, that approach leaves the workers in the industry detached and cynical as well.
Those who can, leave. Those who can’t get sick and die—literally.
Today, only hard core film buffs remember Mack Sennett—he never made a real difference.
But every one knows, and loves Charlie Chaplin—because of the real difference he made.
Which one do you want to be?