Unlike many other Chicago-based studios and production companies, Advance Motion Picture Co. focused primarily on industrial, commercial and educational films, rather than star vehicles. Organized in early 1913, Advance focused on the commercial application of motion picture right out of the gate. The Advance crew spent time filming 1-reelers in the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee, constructing a 3-reel family history of the John Dietz family, and creating educational training films for the Chicago Railways Company.
The Advance crew also made educational and industrial films about specific cities. The commercial club of Kansas City, MO recruited Advance to create a 4-reeler about the city. Advance also made a film about Ottawa, Illinois, entitled Ottawa In Motion. It was such a big deal for the town, that an article promoting the filming, and inviting residents to take part, graced the front page of the local newspaper.
By 1914, the studio had general offices at 547-549 Peoples Gas Building and factory and studio space at 950 Edgecomb Pl., and George L. Cox was brought on as general manager. Cox began as an actor before making the transition to writing scenarios and writing about the technical aspects of the film industry. The following year, Advance consolidated with the Barker-Swan Film Service, and, notably, released a film of the auto derby at the Chicago Speedway. Unfortunately, by early 1917, the Barker-Swan Film Service had gone bankrupt and, it appears, Advance went out with them.
Advertising director Alvin Giles and general manager George L. Cox were visionaries in this field. As Giles said in 1913, “The Advance Company is building for the future along commercial educational and industrial lines and for the production of legitimate photoplays. We are not worrying about our market, as we feel that good pictures will always find one. With our capital, energy and ability, we believe we can make our own place in the moving picture world.”
The Fiesta of San Jacinto (May 1913)
The Coronation of the Queen (May 1913)
The Battle of Flowers (May 1913)
Ottawa in Motion (1913)
Auto-Derby at the Chicago Speedway (1915)
Selected Cast and Crew
Alvin B. Giles
George L. Cox