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Cricks and Martin

Production Company

Main image of Cricks and Martin

George Howard Cricks and John Howard Martin first met when they both worked for Robert Paul in the late nineteenth century. Martin was in charge of the darkroom, and Cricks of the sale of films and equipment through Paul's Animatographe Depot in High Holborn.

Cricks left to form his own company, and Cricks and Martin was founded in 1908, when Martin replaced Cricks' first partner, Henry Martin Sharp, at their studios in Mitcham in Surrey. In 1910 they moved to bigger studio premises at Waddon New Road in Croydon.

Cricks and Martin were tireless self-promoters, as well as promoters of the quality of British film production in general. They boasted in the trade press that their Lion's Head Brand trademark was turning out more successful films than any other British film manufacturer, and that a Lion's Head Film was a clean, moral and above all British film.

Their output until 1912 was short comics, melodramas and industrial subjects, not unlike many other British manufacturers at that time. Their comedies were routine, although The Biter Bit (1909) showed some invention within the chase format by showing an escalating chase on foot, by bicycle and finally by car. Plots were not especially original, drawing from films made by other companies, including an imitation of Cecil Hepworth's animal films called Saved by Carlo (1909). Although derivative, the narrative construction, framing and the pictorial quality of their films were of a very high standard.

Where Cricks and Martin particularly excelled were in their industrial subjects. They produced a great number of finely made subjects chronicling aspects of various British industries such as A Day in a Pottery Works (1909), The Birth of a Big Gun (1908), and Making Christmas Crackers (1910), and in Cliff Climbing (1908) they secured amazing views of a professional egg collector dangling from a cliff face at Flamborough Head in Yorkshire.

On the fiction side, by 1911 Cricks and Martin were developing series with recurring comic characters including Charley Smiler, played by Fred Evans, who would find fame as the character Pimple for the Clarendon Film Co. In October 1911 they announced an ambitious expansion in the scope of their projects, with better plots, better acting and better production. By the end of the year they had the largest producing staff of any British manufacturer and had produced their first feature length film, Pirates of 1920 (1911).

Feature production would prove their undoing: Martin left in 1913 to set up Merton Park studios, clashing with Cricks over whether the company's future lay with feature production (Cricks' view) or short films and comics (Martin's). Cricks continued producing features at Croydon, growing more disillusioned until in 1918 he retired from film production, signalling the end of the Lion's Head brand.

Low, Rachael, The History of the British Film 1906-1914 (London: Allen and Unwin, 1973)
Low, Rachael, The History of the British Film 1914-1918 (London: Allen and Unwin, 1950)

Simon Brown, Reference Guide to British and Irish Film Directors

Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Birth of a Big Gun, The (1908)Birth of a Big Gun, The (1908)

The manufacture of a new weapon in the pre-WWI naval arms race

Thumbnail image of Cliff Climbing  - The Egg Harvest of Flamborough Head (1908)Cliff Climbing - The Egg Harvest of Flamborough Head (1908)

An insight into a rare and potentially dangerous occupation

Thumbnail image of Making Christmas Crackers (1910)Making Christmas Crackers (1910)

Employees of Clark, Nickolls & Coombs make Christmas decorations

Thumbnail image of Visit to Peek Frean and Co.'s Biscuit Works, A (1906)Visit to Peek Frean and Co.'s Biscuit Works, A (1906)

Unusually sophisticated early marketing film.

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Thumbnail image of Cricks, George (1861-1936)Cricks, George (1861-1936)


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