Makino Talkie Seisaku-jo (マキノトーキー製作所)

Makino Talkie Seisaku-jo (established in November 1935, liquidated in April 1937) was a film company that once existed in Kyoto. It was a production company of talkie movies in early times established by Masahiro MAKINO, who was then 27-year-old film director in order to produce talkie films with a recorder developed by himself. It became Makino Talkie Co., Ltd. in September 1936, but its life was short.

Prehistory: technical developer Makino

Makino's father Shozo MAKINO was engaged in the production of talkie films earlier on, and "Modoribashi" (directed by Masahiro MAKINO), a disk-type talkie film produced by Makino Production in 1929, became a nationwide hit. At movie theaters, however, projectionists faced a difficulty in synchronizing and a lot of complaints were made.

In 1931, Shochiku released "Madam to Nyobo" (directed by Heinosuke GOSHO), which is regarded as 'the nation's first talkie film.'
From 1932, Shochiku, Nikkatsu, Tsukigata Yoko Production, Kataoka Chiezo Production, Shinko Kinema, Shin Eigasha and Onei began to produce all-talkie films, part-talkie films which incorporated talkie part into silent films and sound films which incorporated music and katsuben (silent film narration) into silent films.

Masahiro MAKINO was dismissed by Nikkatsu in 1933 because of the feud with Einosuke YOKOTA, which had lasted since the time of his late father Shozo. Makino who believed in the arrival of the era of talkie went to Tokyo with a half of his retirement allowance 2000 yen (at the time) in pockets. He concentrated together with his colleagues in the research and development of recorders and cinema cameras at Onei, which was located in Kagurazaka, Ushigome Ward (current Kagurazaka, Shinjuku Ward) and was led by Shinichi OTA of Nihon Kokusuikai. After developing new machines, Makino established Kyoto branch of Onei, worked for other companies as a recording engineer and devoted himself to the study of recording technology.

In 1935, Masao MUNETA, a senior managing director of Chidori Kogyo in Kobe City, visited Kyoto to see Makino and expressed his intention to invest in the production and distribution of 'two talkie films a month, two sound films a month and annual aggregate of 48 films.'
He also requested to start filming from November since he wanted to show the first film from the middle of December. After racking out his brain over the proposal, Makino finally made up his mind to establish a new company since Suesaburo SASAI encouraged him by providing a land for studio.

Mass production of inexpensive talkies

The establishment of the company was publicized at the end of October prior to the establishment scheduled in November. The first film was a talkie film "Edo Banashi Nezumi Kozo" staring Kunitaro SAWAMURA and Komako HARA and it was directed by Makino. It was filmed at Shinko Kinema Kyoto Studio since the new studio was under construction, and it was released on December 18 of the year. Makino Talkie Studio was established in Uzumasa Katabiranotsuji Nakahiraki-cho (current Uzumasa Horinouchi-cho, Ukyo Ward) at the end of December.

At the end of the month, only one month after the establishment of the studio, the company had already produced nine films and had started to produce another four films. The company ceased the production of sound films before long and produced inexpensive talkie films at a pace of four films per month. The company rented Tsukigata in April of the year in response to the request of Nobuyoshi MORITA, a producer who had been transferred from Shinko Kinema to Toho, but he never returned to the company. Morita was the one who wrote the scenario of the first film for Makino Talkie under the name of "Masao YAMAMOTO." Around that time, the company allowed, on referral from Hirotaka HAYASHI of Yoshimoto Kogyo, Kazuo TAKIMURA of Toho to enter the studio for a few days under the guise of learning about talkie. However, Takimura appeared at the location of "Hatenaki Koro" in Fuji, enticed several persons including Hideharu NAKANO and Naoyo YAMAGATA and brought them to Tokyo.

The company was reorganized into 'Makino Talkie Company Ltd.' in September of the year in accordance with the resolution made at the top-level meeting, in which Shinichi OTA, the president of Eion in Tokyo, Suesaburo SASAI, a director of Makino Talkie, Masao MUNETA of Chidori Kogyo, Hideo MATSUYAMA, manager of planning department of Makino Talkie, and Makino, the head of studio, participated. By that time, the company had produced 26 all-talkie films, two part-talkie films and two sound films, and as for their production cost, Chidori Kogyo had paid 405,000 yen to Makino Talkie and the balance of advance payment made by Makino Talkie was 450,000 yen. Under such situation, Chidori and Makino cleared off the above balance, shared the capital and converted into a joint-stock company including the studio, Chidori Kogyo's distribution and its Kobe office. At the same time, it was confirmed that the production costs be born by the distribution unit as before. From October 1, Makino Talkie started to distribute films produced by Koyo Eiga in Nishinomiya in place of Chidori Kogyo.

As of the end of the year, aggregate number of films produced after the company became incorporated was 22 talkie films and one sound film which was taken as a spare film. Sasai delivered 20,000 yen, which he secured by selling the land and building he owned for rental business, to the accounting manager Tamaru, and this money was used for the year end bonus for employees. People of Makino Talkie took New Year holidays at last after working without holidays for long.

The End

Muneta, a senior managing director of Chidori Kogyo, came to the company on January 8, 1937 to pay production expenses, but the company's cash position didn't improve so much due to excessive production. 350 anarchists were arrested in the same month, and Sasai went missing though he was not arrested. In February of the same year, Makino ignored the proposal to boycott 'Toho Eiga Haikyu,' which was established in June of the previous year, by concluding the agreement among five companies, namely Shochiku, Nikkatsu, Shinko Kinema, Daito Eiga and Makino Talkie. Funds for production paid by Chidori Kogyo ran out after producing five films. 58 all-talkie films, two part-talkie films, six sound films as well as the studio and machines remained as the assets of Chidori Kogyo.

"Yukyo Taiheiki" directed by Masahiro MAKINO (under the name of Sueroku MAKI), whose filming was under way, was completed by Makino's personal funds, and the planning department manager Matsuyama sold the distribution right of "Hatamoto Goninotoko, Oedo no Tobi" directed by Nobuo NAKAGAWA in Tokyo to pay retirement allowance. Also, cash gained by selling "Taki no Shiraito" was reserved for employees' retirement allowance. Around that time, Sasai who returned to Kyoto and Makino had a secret meeting and they decided to liquidate the company in April of the same year.

Tameyoshi KUBO of directors' department was transferred to J.O Studio, Sadatsugu MATSUDA, Goro HIROSE, Hiroshi SEIMARU and Fumio MIYAGI were transferred to Shinko Kinema Kyoto Studio led by Masaichi NAGATA, and the members of technical department were also transferred to Shinko Kinema. However, Ihachi OMORI, a cameraman, returned to Eion to which he previously belonged. Players belonged to the Gigeibu (players) were very much in demand since they could play in talkie films. Most of them, including Junnosuke HAYAMA and Hiroshi OUCHI, were transferred to Shinko Kinema, and Kunitaro SAWAMURA, Ryuzaburo MITSUOKA, Yoichi MIZUHARA, Kunio TAMURA, Tokuma DAN, Takashi SHIMURA, Chiyoko OKURA and Kiyoko OKUBO were transferred to Nikkatsu.

A farewell ceremony was held in the evening of a day in early April at commonly-called 'Makino Talkie Square' located in the studio. Ryunosuke TSUKIGATA participated in the ceremony, too. Participants threw the company's signboard into fire, drank cask sake and sang "the company song of Makino Talkie." Although "Yukyo Taihiki" was not completed at the time, it was released on August 5 of the same year as the film of Nikkatsu Kyoto Studio.

Makino rejoined Nikkatsu, which had already replaced Yokota, with a scenario written by Yoshitake HISA based on Eiji YOSHIKAWA's "Koi Yamahiko." After getting Tsumasaburo BANDO from Shochiku, he directed "Koi Yamahiko Fuun no maki" with Bando being a leading actor as his first film at Nikkatsu. He later directed a musical film "Oshidori Utagassen" (1930) together with Chiezo KATAOKA, who had liquidated Kataoka Production, and Takashi SHIMURA, who had belonged to Makino Talkie.

Makino Talkie Studio with facilities to produce talkie films became 'Imai Eiga Seisakusho' of Risuke IMAI, who had become independent from 'Koyo Eiga.'
The above company produced 22 films, but it was also liquidated in the spring of 1938. The studio later became Shochiku Kyoto Studio. Goro HIROSE, who was once transferred to Shinko Kinema, produced four films at Imai Eiga, and Nobuo NAKAGAWA, who was transferred to Toho Kyoto Studio, wrote a piece of scenario.

[Original Japanese]