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Tooton's Photography: In The Business Of Making Memories

Anthony (Moses) Maurice Tooton, a Maronite born in Damascus, Syria, studied photography in Paris, made the trek to North America, and began his family endeavour by processing and developing glass plate negatives utilizing sunlight. He formed his first shop, Tooton's Photography, in 1905 and in 1911 secured the distribution rights, for all Kodak product from Kodak's founder, George Eastman - in Rochester, New York, in 1911. The Tootons processed and printed more than 100 million rolls of film from 1905 to 1995 in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. This family documented our people, places, and history. Anthony Tooton (IV), using digitized original 16mm film footage from the private family archive (filmed by his Great-Grandfather) takes us on his journey of documenting this important family's legacy. The film is a passionate Immigrant, and business, story of undying commitment, endearing love, and unique success. A preview of the film and speech by the filmmaker was presented at The Rooms, to a sold-out crowd on March 1st, 2018, which lead to the deal to create this current cut in association with the National Film Board of Canada, and was delayed, until now, due to the COVID pandemic.

  • Anthony Tooton
  • Anthony Tooton
  • Anthony Tooton
  • Anthony Geoffrey Tooton
    Key Cast
  • Anthony Raymond Tooton
    Key Cast
  • Bob Innes
    Key Cast
  • Judith Louise Pratt
    Key Cast
  • Margot Bourne
    Key Cast
  • Geoffrey William Stirling
    Key Cast
    Waiting For Fidel
  • Anthony Tooton
  • Christopher Darlington
    Hold Fast, Danny, Just Be Gemma
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    41 minutes 13 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    July 5, 2021
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital with digitized 16mm film
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Anthony Tooton

Hailing from St. John's, Newfoundland, Anthony M. Tooton is a filmmaker and media developer. Tooton graduated OAC from the prestigious Ridley College in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, and eventually attended film school in Toronto, after winning an entrance scholarship. He cut his teeth with his 2006, 52-minute documentary film, "Restaurants are not Democracies!" which followed the irrepressible restaurateur Michael Carlevale and his esteemed colleagues: Franco Prevedello, John Maxwell, Peter Oliver, Massimo Capra, Aristedes Pasperakis, and Stephen Ricci - at Toronto's former 'establishment' restaurant Prego Della Piazza. In 2012, Tooton analyzed an aspect of the cultural relevance comedy plays at the Easternmost point of North America - Newfoundland & Labrador - with his 28-minute NTV Comedy Special: "At Humour's Edge!" In addition, Tooton co-produced and edited an NTV Special relating to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder with a piece on Jeremy Bennett. Tooton co-produced, co-directed, and edited the documentary short 'Moment of Inspiration' which took a look at the life of Sr. Frederick Banting, in London, Ontario. Tooton also created a piece on two-time Wilms Disease survivor Emma Wheeler, in Rehoboth, Massachusetts. He is now moving forward the recently completed, 41-minute documentary film, Tooton's Photography: In The Business Of Making Memories, which focuses on the story of his great-grandfather (of the same name) who immigrated to Newfoundland from Damascus, Syria; created a renowned relationship with Kodak founder Mr. George Eastman; and established Tooton's Photography - which processed and printed in excess of 100 million rolls of film, over its 90 year lifespan.

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Director Statement

Producing, Tooton's Photography: In The Business Of Making Memories has been a labor of love possessing a unique ebb and flow.

I first had the incline of creating a documentary about my Great-Grandfather, Anthony Maurice Tooton, my Family and the family business - Tooton's Photography - while cutting my media teeth at the fledgling Sieved.com. Always having an interest in cameras and having formerly worked for my Father and Grandfather in the Tooton's stores, I was intrigued most of all by my Great-Grandfather's story.

Born a Maronite in Damascus, Syria, Anthony Maurice Tooton, had come to St. John's, Newfoundland, via Liverpool, England, after having studied photography in Paris. He met my Great-Grandmother (Minnie Roberts) and was encouraged by her to approach Kodak Founder, Mr. George Eastman, in Rochester, New York. Not only did my Great-Grandfather retain the rights for all Kodak product (a monopoly which would last until Confederation in 1949), but also the sole privilege of using the branded Kodak name on all his storefront and printed materials, thus to be known as "Tooton's: The Kodak Store."

Intrigued, I eventually began researching, shooting interviews, going through the private family archive, and digitizing the original 16mm film footage my Great-Grandfather had either shot himself and/or commissioned to have shot. All the while working on other media projects.

While at film school in Toronto, I created a couple of demos for the project - 'The Tooton Project.' This allowed for me to gain some ground and I eventually went back to Newfoundland where I continued to produce my film, as the opportunity arose.

Over a period of time, some major health issues interjected and stalled my progress with the project. On a positive note, however, during said 'hiatus' legendary songwriter, Mr. Ron Hynes, wrote a captivating tune specifically for the project called: Take A Picture Of This. Like the story I inherited for my film, Ron's song was also a gift I would soon come to cherish and would prove to fit nicely with the other original musical works of Duane Andrews, Chris Picco, and Mick Davis within the tapestry of my film.

After finally stabilizing, I had the opportunity to present a preview of my film, and speech, at The Rooms in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. To my surprise, the show was sold out. I set out to inject fresh energy and create a cut that I feel did justice to the work I compiled and, moreover, to the vast archive which exists. I then presented that cut to the Niagara Artist's Centre in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. From, there, I applied to the Filmmaker's Assistance Program at the National Film Board of Canada and received a grant to finally complete the project. Top-rate editor, Christopher Darlington came on board and breathed new life into the project, and here we are!

Prominently featured in my film are my Father and Tooton's Past President, Anthony Geoffrey (Geoff) Tooton; Grandfather and former Tooton's Chairman, Anthony Raymond Tooton; WWII Veteran, businessman, and Tooton Family friend, Mr. Bob Innes; Television (CJON/NTV), Radio (innumerable stations) and Film (Waiting For Fidel) pioneer and Canadian Broadcast Hall Of Famer, Mr. Geoffrey W. Stirling; Broadcasting Pioneer (CJON), Trudeau Cabinet Member, and Stirling business partner, Mr. Don Jamieson; and my Aunts, Judith Louise (Tooton) Pratt and Margot (Tooton) Bourne.

It should be noted, with the advent of Television in the early 1950s Mr. Stirling with CJON guaranteed to double the sales of Tooton's, if my Great-Grandfather would sign on as a client and go on the air every night at the 6 o'clock Evening News! This required more than doubling his advertising budget, something unheard of in those days. It was an unheralded deal, Stirling was right, and as he says to me in the documentary: "Tony, we didn't have a 50-year contract, we had nothing but a word of mouth!"

My family processed and printed millions upon millions of rolls of film, had as many as 600 'dealers' or drop-off points, and numerous retail locations in both Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. My Great-Grandfather came to Newfoundland not knowing a word of English and within months, really, fell in love, befriended Mr. George Eastman, and set up the basis for what would become an institution. Whether beginning with glass plate portraits, developing the first roll of film, documenting our times, or creating the basis for which Newfoundlanders could capture and behold their countless memories, it is a unique story of success. Weaving the many strands and elements of the family business story together, I now share with you the best I presently can!

It has been one heck of a journey in making Tooton's Photography: In The Business Of Making Memories, and I hope you will join me on this next leg of the trek!

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Very sincerely,

Anthony M. Tooton (IV)