What is Pickfair?

The purpose of the Pickfair Institute of Cinematic Studies is the pursuit of excellence of motion picture art, science and technology. Our goal is to provide an aegis in which companies, organizations and individuals can, through cooperative action, research the history and heritage and advance the evolution of the motion picture art/science and disseminate that learning, for the commonweal of human culture. Our work is funded by donations from the public and institutions, through the sales of test, evaluation and demonstration materials.

Why “Pickfair?”

Almost a hundred years ago a couple of actors got together and set up housekeeping in a house that came to be known as Pickfair. It might as well have also been called Camelot, for that is what it became for the cinema world. 

The couple, of course, was Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. They founded a number of institutions, among them The Motion Picture Home and Hospital, United Artists and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.  Their fundamental tenet was that motion pictures are an art form, the first new art form in millennia. (The French had dubbed it the seventh art.) While both shrewd and accomplished business people, Fairbanks’ and Pickford’s concern, shared by a valiant faction of the film community, including Chaplin, their partner in United Artists, was that, a burgeoning industry, growing at an incredible pace and generating immense revenues, was at grave risk of becoming a commodity and that would overwhelm the art. The studio they founded was the only such entity bearing the name of art in its title. The Academy they founded, pointedly bore the titles of both art and science. Their concerns were well founded in their day, and the urgency of their cause has never abated.  Pickfair, the building, was destroyed a few years ago. Pickfair, the idea, lives on in the minds of all who share the view that cinema is an art form first and foremost and a business second. It will live on also in the Pickfair Institute for Cinematic Studies.