Makino Film Productions (マキノ映画製作所)

"Makino Film Productions" (established in 1923 - merged in 1924) is a Japanese film company which once existed. It was an independent film production company established in the earliest days of Japanese film industry, and the company was active and successful in the 1920's. The company went into full-fledged operation with film director Teinosuke KINUGASA who had been an actor, making a utility actor Tsumasaburo BANDO rise to stardom, and launching the youngsters in their early 20s into the film industry, Rokuhei SUSUKITA as a scriptwriter and Buntaro FUTAGAWA and Kintaro INOUE as film directors.

Departure from Yokota's rule

The company was founded by Shozo MAKINO, the pioneering director of Japanese films, on June 1, 1923.

Mikado Shokai,' established by Makino as a filmmaker for producing educational films in 1919, were absorbed into Nikkatsu (Japan Moving Picture Co., Ltd), by Einosuke YOKOTA, the president of Nikkatsu, who saw MAKINO's independent activities as a threat to his business. Although Makino went back to work as a director at Nikkatsu for a while, he again established a new company, 'Makino Educational Films' in 1921. He attracted young people in their 20s who had once belonged to Taikatsu (Taisho Katsuei Film Studio) and people from Kokkatsu (Kokusai Katsuei Film Company), and made a then-actor, Teisnosuke KINUGASA, switch to a film director.
When the company matured to independently produce and distribute films going beyond the category of 'educational films,' he pushed through his longed-for reorganization of the company to transform it into 'Makino Film Productions.'
Makino continued working as a full-fledged film director and film producer.
He also used another name, 'Seiji MAKINO.'
The company kept the operation of 'Tojiin Studio' as its film studio, which Makino Educational Films had established in Kita Ward, Kyoto City in 1921, while continuing independent distribution of films to theaters such as 'Asakusa Daitokyo.'

The first movies distributed after the reorganization were "Seikai MIYOSHI" starring Hataya ICHIKAWA, "Yaji to Kitahachi Daiiippen" (Stories about Yaji and Kita, Vol. 1) directed by Shozo MAKINO, and "Niwa no kotori" (Two Little Birds) directed by Teinosuke KINUGASA, which started to be shown as a triple feature program on June 1, 1923. Although the company fully operated to supply two or three films per week for three months after the reorganization, the Great Kanto Earthquake occurred on September 1 of the same year totally destroyed the business lines, particularly Asakusa, resulting in halting of the film production and distribution. Only five movies were supplied throughout Japan in September of that year, which were produced by Shochiku Kamata Studio of Shochiku Co., Ltd. and Imperial Cinema Entertainment Co., Ltd. (Tei-kine), and then Shochiku started construction of a new film studio in Kyoto to replace its film studio in Kamata. Taking advantage of the chaotic situations, Yokota of Nikkatsu led a move to oust independent film productions such as Makino's, encouraging other major filmmakers to join the move. Makino hung on for the rest of the year by switching the main theater for first showing his films to Narukofuji-kan located in Narukozakashita, Tsunohazu, Yodobashi-cho, Toyotama-gun, Tokyo Prefecture (currently, Nishi-Shinjuku 8-chome, Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo) and he established a new company called "Makino Kinema Kabushiki Kaisha" in November of that year, together with its directly-managed theater "Makino Kinema" in Nishijin, Kyoto City, to start organizing his own business chain.

As New Year's movies to be released on the New Year's Eve, the company distributed "Seishun no Hika"(Elegy of Adolescence) directed by Bansho KANAMORI to the Narukofuji-kan theater and also went as far as to distribute a double feature of "Gion Jowa Tsubomi no Mama"(Love story in Gion, a budding woman) also directed by Kanamori and "Otoko ga Tsuma wo Erabutoki" (When a man choose his wife) directed by Shusei GOTO to the 'Asakusa Opera-kan Theater' which had been built after reconstruction of Asakusa area. Moreover, on January 2, 1924, the company reinstated its film distribution to the reconstructed theater, 'Asakusa Daitokyo,' resuming with "Kyofu no Yasha" (The Dreaded Yasha) co-directed by Shozo MAKINO and Koroku NUMATA. The company also continued its film distribution to the Narukofuji-kan Theater and the Asakusa Opera-kan Theater. In January of the same year, the 'Japan Film Makers Association' was established by the four companies of Nikkatsu, Shochiku, Tei-kine and Makino for the purposes of unification of censorship, establishment of film distribution system, prevention of headhunting and so forth.

Debut of Rokuhei SUSUKITA

At the age of 22, Rokuhei SUSUKITA, after seeing "Jitsuroku Chushingura" (True Record of the Forty-seven Ronin), a movie directed by Makino, at a preview which he could attend through his personal connection with Eizo YAMAUCHI (later became a film director) working for Daikatsu in Yokohama at that time, suddenly came to Kyoto and joined the script department of Makino Educational Films in the spring of 1922. Susukita lived in the same boarding house with actors such as Tsumasaburo BANDO, Buntaro FUTAGAWA and Kintaro INOUE, used to discuss films with them, and recommended Bando, a then-uncredited actor, to Makino. In the month following the establishment of Makino Film Productions in 1923, Makino made Susukita debut as a scriptwriter in "Murasaki Zukin Ukiyoe-shi" (The Purple Hood: Woodblock Artist) starring Hataya ICHIKAWA and co-directed by Makino and Kanamori.. In the company, Susukita rolled out twenty-four scripts and the nihilistic world in his scripts contributed to Bando's breakthrough to become a star.

The company made Buntaro FUTAGAWA and Kintaro INOUE, the actors who had belonged to Daikatsu in Yokohama before joining Makino's company at its start, come out as film directors. Futagawa made his debut as a film director at the age of 24, and Inoue, 21. The film program released on April 4, 1924 at Asakusa Daitokyo was a spree of short films directed by Futagawa, Inoue and Goto and scripted by Rokuhei SUSUKITA. Makino hired Kiyoshi MASUMOTO, who had quit the job of head of Tsunohazu Junisou Film Studio of Kokkatsu, to make him direct one film, and also made 23 year-old Seika SHIBA, who had belonged to the script department of Kokkatsu, accumulate experience as a scriptwriter and an assistant film director through several films in his company and then launched him as a film director. Moreover, Makino used Taketoshi MURATA who had been an assistant director of Nagao, and Reizo INOUE, who was an actor and film director at Katsudo Shashin Shiryo Kenkyukai established by Toyojiro TAKAMATSU, each to direct one film.

In April of 1924, Makino, after reading "Shinju Kirarazaka," a novel written by a then-budding writer, Sanjugo NAOKI (then called himself "Sanjusan NAOKI") and published in a magazine called "Kuraku" issued by a publishing house Platon Osaka, happened to meet Naoki accompanying Kaoru OSANAI and Matsutaro KAWAGUCHI of Platon whom he had invited to his film studio, and then asked permission of Naoki about making the novel into a movie.

Makino himself authored the film script under the pen name of 'Seiji MAKINO' and the film titled "Kirara Zaka" starring Tsumasaburo BANDO was completed two months later and released on June 20. Since then, Naoki grew seriously involved in film making and in March of the following year, he went as far as to start a film production company 'Rengo Eiga Geijutsuka Kyokai' (United Film Artists Association) in Nara Prefecture.

In July of 1924, Makino accepted merger with Toa Kinema, but in June of the following year 1925, he set up a film business completely on his own by establishing Makino Production (established in 1925 - dissolved in July 1932).