LOTM: The Dickson Experiment

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LUT OF THE MONTH: The Dickson Experiment filter

In celebration of the US Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutional right to same-sex marriage, and in honor of the first known film to depict some warm contact between two men (ladies, this is for you too, we’ll follow up with something special for you as well) we’ve created The Dickson Experiment filter which Filmakrs can now download for free.

History of The Dickson Experiment film

The Dickson Experiment is the first “sound film,” the earliest  known experiment in creating a movie with a synchronized soundtrack.  It is also the first notable form of homosexuality depicted in film.  Made by William Kennedy-Laurie Dickson (1860-1935) in late 1894 or early 1895 in 1895, it depicts two men dancing together while director W.K.L. Dickson playing on violin a piece of “The Chimes at Midnight”, an opera by Jean Robert Planquette.  While commonly labeled online and in three published books as The Gay Brothers, at the time men were not seen this way as queer or even flamboyant, but merely acting fanciful.

The Dickson Experiment LUT

Our  LUT is fanciful and high contrast with whites clipping a bit to conjure the black and white qualities of The Dickson Experiment paper print embedded here, but also high in saturation to give the feeling of celebration. There are many colors of the rainbow (of course!) bouncing around with pinks in the mids to add a beautiful queer cast to the skin tones. Blues and Greens dance together in the highlights like the two men in film, bringing whispers of cyan to the whites, holding their own integrity but mixing with the reds while moving into the shadows adding a lavender foundation. Meanwhile, the yellows are pure, saturated and eye-catching; as they dive into the greens they bring a bit of earthy, muddiness and a sense of grounded reality to the entire scene. It’s all is topped off with a touch of underexposure to impart a sense of aged paper, like the historic artifact The Dickson Experiment film itself, and the historic moment today is and will remain.

The Dickson Experiment Fun Facts

• Filmed in Thomas Edison’s Black Maria studio.

• Preserved in the Library of Congress Film archive in 200o

• George Lucas, Skywalker Sound, Industrial Light and Magic, Walter Murch, and American Zoetrope all played a hand in its preservation.