Nèe Encarnacion Rosa Hynam 

b. c. 1887, Madrid, Spain

d. 4 December 1953, Birchington, Kent, UK

Married Walter Comrie Scott 6 June 1914, Crouch End, Edmonton, Essex, UK

Managing Director of the American Film Company (London) Ltd.

Described by The Cinema in the early twenties as ‘the Lady Director of Wardour Street’ [1] Encarnacion Rosa Scott held a number of prominent positions in the British film renting business in the silent era. Scott was Spanish by birth and moved to London as a child. In 1914 she married Walter Comrie Scott, a British film agent who was a founding director of the American Company (London) Limited. 

The company was formed in August 1911 to manufacture and deal in cinematograph films and apparatus. They were the sole and exclusive agent in the UK and Europe for the sale of the American Film Manufacturing Company’s films, including the brand names ‘the sign of the Flying A’, ‘American Beauty Films’ and ‘Beauty Films’.

When Walter Scott commenced active service in the Royal Army Service Corps in 1916, Encarnacion became a shareholder in the company and manager of the firm’s factory in Croydon, Surrey. She was widowed not long afterwards in 1919, leaving her to raise their 3 year old daughter alone and officially assume the role of managing director of the company. The company became a significant part of her life – even the name of her home, ‘Santa Barbara’, was representative of the company [2]. The Kinematograph Year Book provides further insights into her character, for example we know she enjoyed motoring and studying languages [3].

As late as 1929, it was reported that ‘Mrs. Scott holds a unique position in the Trade, for she is, we believe, the only lady occupying the position of managing director of a producing and film printing concern’ [4]. It is for this position that Scott is best known but it was also the springboard for other business projects.

In September 1922, Scott became a director of a new film renting firm called the Rose Film Company. During the company’s inaugural dinner at the Trocadero, London, Scott explained that they were ‘out to put the best possible films on the market … at the best possible price’ [5]. They planned to release 26 high-class super productions over the course of the following year, including 12 Flying ‘A’ productions. Three months later a dinner dance was held in London for the staff of the American and Rose Film Companies and a special presentation was made to Scott ‘as a mark of respect and affection from the staffs and agents of the company’ [6]. She seems to have been held in high regard by her colleagues and the speeches that evening recognised her ‘untiring labours’ and ‘wonderful business capacity’ [7].

Despite such glowing reports, by the end of the 1920s Scott’s business ventures were beginning to fail and she spiralled towards bankruptcy. 1921 saw the demise of production at the American Film Manufacturing Company. Nevertheless, the headquarters and laboratory in Chicago continued to operate for several years and the American Company retained shares in the London Company. Operations in London were evidently still active between 1925 and 1927 as records held at the British Film Institute show rentals to the Film Society in that period. In 1927 the American backers finally pulled out of the London-based company. Unable to continue business due to its liabilities, the company went into voluntary liquidation in 1929. Scott estimated her personal financial loss to be £60,000 which was an incredible sum at that time [8].

The Kinematograph Year Book reported Scott’s first meeting with creditors at Bankruptcy Buildings in London where the ‘debtor’ summarised her business activities and losses [9]. Before the American Company (London) Limited was liquidated, Scott formed and managed another company called Film Distributors Ltd. This company was also liquidated in 1930. Her next move was to set up on her own as a film renter to try to repay the debts incurred by Film Distributors. She planned to supply silent films (a somewhat high-risk strategy following the emergence of sound films). This venture also ended in failure. As a last resort she set up Star Films (Commercial) Limited, which failed to operate. The Rose Film Company which had been set up under such fanfare in 1921 also went into receivership in 1927 [10], but this was later omitted from Scott’s summary with the creditors.

Scott was evidently a determined, energetic and career-driven woman. Rather than walk away from the industry when things turned sour in the late twenties, Scott battled on as she viewed her debts as “debts of honour” [11]. Despite the unfortunate end to Scott’s career, this should not detract from her successful management of the American Company (London) Limited for at least a decade. Following her husband’s death, Scott was more than simply a company caretaker – she was an active manager who established herself as a prominent player in the British film renting industry.

©Amy Bethel

References:

[1] ‘Presentation to Mrs. Scott’, The Cinema, 21 December 1922, p.8.

[2] Ward’s Commercial and General Croydon Directory (1920).

[3] ‘Who’s What’, Kinematograph Year Book, Diary, and Directory, 1923, p. 271.

[4] ‘Who’s What in The Trade’, Kinematograph Year Book, Diary, and Directory, 1929, p. 280.

[5] ‘Inauguration of The Rose Film Company’, The Cinema, 21 September 1922, p. 38.

[6] ‘Presentation to Mrs. Scott’, The Cinema, 21 December 1922, p. 8.

[7] ‘Presentation to Mrs. Scott’, The Cinema, 21 December 1922, p. 8.

[8] ‘Meetings of Creditors’, Kinematograph Year Book, Diary, and Directory, 1932, p. 191.

[9] ‘Meetings of Creditors’, Kinematograph Year Book, Diary, and Directory, 1932, p. 191.

[10] ‘Bankruptcies, Liquidations, etc.’, Kinematograph Year Book, Diary, and Directory, 1928, p. 196.

[11] ‘Meetings of Creditors’, Kinematograph Year Book, Diary, and Directory, 1932, p. 191.Walter Scott was a film agent who became the director of the American Company (London) Limited in August 1911. The company was formed in agreement with the American Film Manufacturing Company who were based in Chicago, U.S.A.

Other Sources

Death announcement, The Times, 9 December 1953, p. 1.

‘Rose Film Company’s Inaugural Dinner’, The Bioscope, 21 September 1922, p. 42.

‘The Exhibitors’ Mecca’, The Bioscope, 7 September 1922, p. 36.

‘Who’s What’, Kinematograph Yearbook 1926, p. 233:

‘Mrs Scott [Managing Director, American Film Co. (London) Ltd.]

Mrs Scott holds a unique position in the Trade, for she is, we believe, the only lady occupying the position of managing director of a producing and film printing concern. Though she has not been in the business very long, she has rapidly made good. She joined the American company in 1916 when her husband, the late W. C. Scott, joined up. She first became manageress of the firm’s factory at Croyden, subsequently transferring her energies to the Wardour Street offices, from which she now presides as managing director.

Hobby:- Study of languages Recreation:- Motoring Address:- Santa Barbara, Down Court Road, Purley, Surrey.’

Archival Sources:

The Film Society Collection, Item 29, invoices and receipts, the American Company (London) Ltd, The British Film Institute Special Collections, 21 Stephen Street, London, W1T 1LN. http://www.bfi.org.uk/

Board of Trade Files of Dissolved Companies, American Company (London) Ltd, BT 31/20163/117170, The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9 4DU.

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/

Researcher

Amy Bethel (SB)

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