Preserving Silent Cinema: An Interview with Jay Warren

Elizabeth Granato

March 20th, 2017

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of interviewing Dennis Wolkowicz (aka Jay Warren). Jay Warren is a photoplay organist for The Silent Film Society of Chicago. For those who do not know, the term “photoplay” means a play that has been photographed to put on film. Warren’s job is to accompany films by playing an organ. Before the society started, they would have screenings just for fun and around Halloween, they would have a viewing of The Phantom of the Opera and other screenings here or there. They finally decided that they should form a club. The Silent Film Society of Chicago is an organization officially formed in the late 90’s and since then, they have been holding silent film viewings all over the Chicagoland area. Along with these screenings, they have a Silent Summer Festival every July and August on consecutive Fridays. The society has always aimed for two things: to bring attention to silent cinema and the music of silent cinema.

Warren has had about 40 years of experience in this business and he has a strong passion for music in silent films. He wants everyone to know the importance of this unique art form as well as the music that goes along with it. He feels that not many people appreciate silent films, but he encourages them to give them a try. His ultimate hope is that people will come to these screenings to see what silent cinema is all about. In our interview, we discussed everything from the history of silent films to the music that plays an important role in this unique art form.


Listen below for the complete interview with Jay Warren.

Elizabeth Granato

Senior Features Editor

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