The Tilley Brothers

Professional as Amateur2

The Tilley collection well illustrates the blurred, often contested line between “amateur” and “professional” film practice. Brothers W. Hope and Paul Tilley produced some of the earliest Texas films on record through their San Antonio and Austin-based Satex Film Company, exhibiting their silent dramas on a screen in front of the Alamo as early as 1911. Unfortunately, no copies of their early features remain. The only extant Tilley footage is that which is featured here: Tilley home movies. Not produced for a commercial audience, these “amateur” films feature traditional home movie images of babies or trips interspersed with examples of the brothers’ experiments with special effects.

Like the majority of early independent filmmakers, the Tilley brothers were unable to sustain their fledgling company and declared bankruptcy by 1913. W. Hope Tilley remained in Austin and pursued music-related activities after marrying Austin-born Helen Grist. Paul Tilley continued to work in film, moving to Hollywood where he worked with fellow Texan, King Vidor, (and lived next door to Harpo Marx!).

Proceed to Ramon Galindo.