History & Milestones
Did you know that Eclair, founded in 1907, began producing silent shorts in France and the US in 1912, including Robin Hood, one of the first film iterations of the classic story?
Discover below what makes us stand out from the crowd and why we are so proud of our history.
Faced with the prodigious growth of the motion picture industry, lawyer Charles Jourjon teams up with cinema pioneer Ambroise Parnaland to found the Société Française des Films l’Eclair.
Purchase of the Lacepède property in Épinay-sur-Seine, an ideal location for film shoots. In less than 5 years, Eclair rises to become the third most-important film producer, right behind illustrious pioneers Pathé and Gaumont.
Eclair opens its US studios and film laboratory in Fort Lee, New Jersey, the capital of American cinema before Hollywood, with Étienne Arnaud, formerly of Gaumont, at its head.
Following stints at Gaumont and Pathé, Emile Cohl, the father of animation, joins Eclair USA.
Under technical director Georges Maurice, automation of the laboratory and mechanisation of the film colorization process (patented by ex- Pathé engineer Jean Méry).
Eclair Studios in Fort Lee, NJ suffer a devastating fire.
At the advent of WWI, the army requisitions the studios and mobilises all able-bodied men. The Section cinématographique de l’Armée is born in 1915 thanks to the efforts of Lieutenant Jean-Louis Croze (literary critic in his civilian life). Just four production houses (Pathé, Gaumont, Eclair and Eclipse) are officially authorized to film the "war."
Eclair finds itself in a dire financial situation. Charles Jourjon convinces his board of directors to entrust the company’s rescue to the “friendly hands" of exhibitor Serge Sandberg and distributor & film importer Louis Aubert.
Charles Jourjon and Serge Sandberg create an alliance to found a new company, and oust Louis Aubert in April 1919. Eclair’s assets are leased to the S.I.C. (Société Industrielle Cinématographique), an authorized Eclair dealer.
The Pasdeloup Orchestra, founded by Serge Sandberg, is hired by Epinay’s Tobis Studios to record music to accompany films, which are projected on a screen in front the conductor.
Opening of a third studio and commercialization of the famous "Caméréclair" camera (patented by Jean Méry). Financing of several films shot in Nice, including Louis Nalpa’s works and productions by the Société des Cinéromans, headed by René Navarre.
Eclair’s studios are rented out to independent productions. Faced with cramped quarters in Montreuil, Alexandre Kamenka’s Albatros shoots films at Eclair by Jean Epstein, Jacques Feyder, René Clair and Marcel L’herbier, with sets by Lazare Meerson.
Last fiction films produced by Eclair with the exception of Charles Jourjon’s weekly Eclair Journal. In 1930, Serge Sandberg sells his shares in Eclair to Charles Jourjon while keeping the ex-Menchen studios on rue du Mont.
The last silent film is shot in Berlin: "Napoléon à Sainte-Hélène," directed by Lupu Pick and distributed by Louis Aubert.
Following Charles Jourjon’s request four years prior, Jean Méry adds sound recording capability to the Caméréclair, and sends cameramen out to film political and sports events for the Eclair Journal, which now features sound.
Death of Eclair founder Charles Jourjon. His son-in-law, Jacques Mathot, graduated from the École Louis Lumière, takes over as his successor.
Despite the German occupation and film shortage, shoots continue in Épinay-sur-Seine, including André Zwobada’s "Croisières sidérales" and the first feature films from Claude Autant-Lara ("Douce") and Robert Bresson ("Les dames du Bois de Boulogne"). Eclair Journal becomes a propaganda tool.
First colour films processed (Agfacolor – 1932 and Eastmancolor 1950) thanks to engineer Jean Thérus, who takes over at Eclair.
Jacques Mathot, along with André Coutant, invents a new camera, the Caméflex, described by Jean Cocteau as "a dream for those of us with indiscreet eyes."
Birth of French New Wave cinema. Claude Chabrol’s "Les Cousins" & "Le Beau Serge," Francois Truffaut’s "Les quatre cents coups," and Jean-Luc Godard’s "A bout de souffle" are all shot outside the confines of a studio lot thanks to the new lighter, shoulder-carried Eclair cameras, and ultra-sensitive film that does not require studio lighting.
Death of Jacques Mathot. His son-in-law, Philippe Dormoy, takes over as his successor.
With the evolution of television, Eclair creates its Broadcast Video branch to meet the growing needs of new television networks.
A decade later, faced with an exploding video market, Eclair launches a videocassette duplication (VHS) department, and becomes a video publisher.
Eclair joins video postproduction lab Télétota and Telcipro to form the Tectis group.
Bertrand Dormoy takes over from his father at the head of Eclair until 2005. He continues the family policy of assisting young producers and directors. He hires a young Luc Besson as an intern at Eclair and, after Besson founds his own production company, helps produce his first film, "Le Dernier combat." Eclair is the leading photochemical film lab in France.
Eclair commits to the creation of a complete postproduction chain. Its digital lab (colour grading, a production chain able to process HD and 4K images, restoration, etc.) is one of the largest in Europe.
Eclair becomes part of Ymagis Group. All Epinay-sur-Seine activities are relocated to the company’s facilities in the southern Paris suburb of Vanves.
Launch of EclairColor HDR (High Dynamic Range) technology and EclairColor patent filed in France, the EU and the US.