Robert Paul is a largely forgotten name today, but he was a major pioneer of British cinema, and was quick to grasp the commercial potential of cinema in ways that better known pioneers such as William Friese-Greene were not. He was more of a mechanic than a filmmaker making, with Birt Acres, his own camera on which to shoot films in 1895, and also Britain's first projector, the Animatograph, with which to screen them in 1896. Early in the 20th century he had a custom-made studio built in Muswell Hill.
Footpads is a very short film boasting one of cinema's earliest if not its' first drama. It was made for the Kinetoscope rather than the screen, and was the last film Paul made with Birt Acres (the two would quickly become bitter enemies when their short partnership prematurely disintegrated). The film has a surprisingly realistic city backdrop against which we see a street mugging foiled by the police.
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