Eloyce King Patrick Gist produced films of entertainment but with a strong moral and spiritual mission, a goal she shared with her filmmaker husband. The Library of Congress publication on silent era women behind the camera lists all of Gist’s credits as shared by her husband, James Gist. In the case of Hell Bound Train (ca. 1929-30), she re-wrote and re-edited the 16mm film after her husband completed it, and Gloria J. Gibson thinks that she may have also helped to re-shoot sequences (201). Verdict Not Guilty (1930-33) is thought to have been produced, written and directed with James Gist. Although the two made their short religious films together, Eloyce belonged to the Bahá’í faith and her husband was a Christian evangelical. But both worked to find an audience for their films in African American community groups and churches. In recent years, the job of editing and restoring these films was taken up by the Motion Pictures, Broadcasting, and Sound Recording Division of the U.S. Library of Congress, which represented a challenge because the original 16mm footage was in shreds and out of order due to multiple screenings, indicating a wide use of the films. The Gists ran a very low budget operation using non-professional actors and their object was to make 16mm motion pictures to accompany religious services, thus Hell Bound Train preached temperance. Verdict Not Guilty was a crime drama commentary on the justice system which was screened often by the NAACP (Gibson, 195-209). Eloyce Gist’s work remains unique in its explicitly non-theatrical definition and its purpose as a tool for moral education and social uplift.
With additional research by Aimee Dixon.