|click image for more info on the Niles Film Museum
Best Director Nominee
David Kiehn is the author of Broncho Billy and the Essanay Film Company, the definitive history of that pioneering film company,
published in 2003. His research on the subject, which began in 1995, sparked a renewed interest in this local Niles history,
resulting in the first Broncho Billy Silent Film Festival in June 1998, and the formation of the Niles Essanay Silent Film
Museum, a non-profit organization, in 2001. He is the historian and film programmer for the Museum, located at the historic
Edison Theater in the Niles district of Fremont, California.
In October, 2010, he was seen on 60 Minutes in a segment with Morley Safer about A Trip Down Market Street, a film which
he discovered was shot by the Miles Brothers, a San Francisco film company, just a few days before the 1906 earthquake. He
also identified another Miles Bros film of post 1906 SF earthquake images in 2018 which was featured in a New York Times article,
NPR's All Things Considered and the PBS Newshour.
THURS. OCT. 15
3 RIVERS MUSEUM
BASS AND BELLE WILD WEST FILM FEST
BRONCHO BILLY AND THE BANDIT'S SECRET & WINDOW TO THE PAST
DIRECTED by DAVID KIEHN
PRODUCED by Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum
WRITTEN by David Kiehn & Sprague Anderson
One hundred years ago Gilbert M. 'Broncho Billy' Anderson, the first cowboy movie star, was making westerns for the Essanay
Film Company in Niles Canyon. He and his company made over 350 films from 1912 to 1916, films that were seen around the world.
Niles, now part of the city of Fremont, still has the feel of that little town of 1,400 residents who were invaded by a small
army of filmmakers. That era is celebrated by the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum at the Edison Theater, built in 1913, the
same year Essanay built their studio on the adjoining block. To commemorate this pioneering period in film history, we have
produced a two-reel silent western film using the techniques of those early days. The movie was shot on 35mm black & white
film using a hand cranked Bell & Howell 2709 camera, with 'interior' scenes of the sheriff's office shot on an open-air
set. The Niles Canyon Railway was recruited for a train robbery scene in the Canyon. Some of the vintage props used included
a stagecoach, horse and buggy, 1908 Cadillac, steam engine and railroad passenger and baggage cars. The filmmakers were privileged
to have the last living silent film star, Diana Serra Cary, known as Baby Peggy on the screen, who worked in Hollywood from
1921 to 1926 make a cameo. The story of the film involves the Essanay Film Company on a train headed for Niles when bandits
stop the train in Niles Canyon to take the strong box, and Broncho Billy helps the sheriff bring the robbers to justice.