Makino Educational Films (牧野教育映画製作所)

Makino Educational Films (established in June 1921, reorganized in 1924) is a Japanese movie company that once existed. It is a company that Shozo MAKINO, the 'Father of Japanese film,' established after he sought independence from Nikkatsu. It is known for Makino seriously embarking on the road to independent-style film, for being bustled with young people like Tomu UCHIDA from Taikatsu (Taisho Katsuei film studio) in Yokohama, and for having Teinosuke KINUGASA debut as a director.

Young people from Yokohama

After 'Mikado Shokai' was absorbed by Nikkatsu in January 1920, Makino returned to Nikkatsu and continued shooting a film starring Matsunosuke ONOE once again. But he retired from Nikkatsu with the condition that he 'would not produce entertainment movies' again. It is this company that he established within the grounds of Tojiin Temple at the foot of Mt. Kinugasa (Kyoto Prefecture), Kita Ward, Kyoto City, in June 1921. In September of the same year, he built and opened 'Tojiin Studio' in the same location. Bansho KANAMORI who was MAKINO's former assistant director and Koroku NUMATA who was a director of Nikkatsu Kyoto also joined. Continuing from Mikado days, Tatsuo HOSHINO of Ministry of Education and Yasunosuke GONDA gave their assistance. It was when Shozo MAKINO was 42 years old.

Just in the same month, 'Taisho Katsudo Eiga' (Daikatsu), located in Yamashita-cho, Yokohama City (Yokohama City) and where Thomas KURIHARA and Junichiro TANIZAKI were producing their films, closed its studio temporarily. Kintaro INOUE and Tomu UCHIDA, Buntaro FUTAGAWA, Atsushi WATANABE (actor), Ureo EGAWA, Tokihiko OKADA, and Sumiko SUZUKI who belonged to the actors division entered Kyoto lead by Yotahei BAKU (later known as Takuji FURUMI), who wandered various theatrical companies of 'Asakusa Opera', quit 'Negishi Dai-Kagekidan' (Negishi great opera company) and became actor and director at Daikatsu, and his wife Yoko BENISAWA. Everyone except Okada and Suzuki joined this 'Tojiin Studio'. Makihara welcomed Kurihara's Hollywood style and Tanizaki's then cutting edge literature, as well as these young people in their 20's from Yokohama who carried about themselves in the artistic freedom of Baku's Asakusa rokku.
He put them in leading roles, had his sons who were around 10 years old take parts, and began to produce and release 'educational films.'

In the following year 1922, Makino gathered obscure kabuki actors who have never yet appeared in a film, and shot a feature film titled "Jitsuroku Chushingura" (True Record of the Forty-seven Ronin).
It received the authoritative assurance of Ministry of Education as a 'recommended film.'
The film was distributed and release by Daikatsu, which had become an entertainment company, on May 27 of the same year and became a major hit. This film gained recognition for its innovative dramatic interpretation. Moreover, Tanizaki lauded the film as more 'film like' in comparison to the Matsunosuke ONOE films during the Nikkatsu days. It became a big step for Makino to escape from the fetters of Nikkatsu's Einosuke YOKOTA and gain complete independence.

Teinosuke KINUGASA's debut as a director

In the same year, though he quit Nikkatsu Studio and moved to Kokusai Katsuei (Kokkatsu), he quit Kokkatsu due to slumping business and took to the road for rensa geki (combined performance of film and theatrical staging). While Teinosuke KINUGASA, then an actor, was touring in Nagoya, a movie theater owner in the region complained to Nikkatsu's head office. To stop this, the head office asked Makino, who was once the head of Nikkatsu Mukojima Studios, to reason with Kinugasa group.
Makino flew to Nagoya, reasoned with Kinugasa, and at the same time, decided to take them in at 'Tojiin Studio.'
In the same year, Kinugasa, as a co-director to Uchida, made his directorial debut with "Aa, Konishi junsa" (Officer Konishi). This work was released on October 29 under Nikkatsu's distribution.

On the other hand, Baku was directing "Hibana" (Spark), but due to conflicts with Makino, he abandoned the shooting unfinished and left the company with his wife Benisawa. It was Kinugasa that finished this work. Regardless, Nikkatsu was already greatly indebted to Makino, and shaking off the condition of 'would not produce entertainment movies,' he began the production of "Chuji KUNISADA," an original work by Rifu YUKITOMO, which was a killer title of shinkoku-geki (realistic period-drama). This work was grandly released as a 'New Year's movie' under Kokkatsu's distribution on December 31 of the same year. Similar to "Jitsuroku Chushingura," all the actors that appeared were unknown.

In 1923, Makino repeatedly produced films that centered on standard figures filled with narrative quality such as Yoshio OISHI, Jiraiya, Nezumi Kozo Jirokichi, Choshichiro MATSUDAIRA, Hikozaemon OKUBO, and SHIMIZU no Jirocho. Soon after, Kokkatsu stopped all film production, and Tsumasaburo BANDO joined from there. The name 'Educational Film' was no longer appropriate. The company reorganized as 'Makino Film Productions' and at the same time, Makino changed his name to 'Shozo MAKINO'.