The article discusses the collaboration between Shōzō Makino (1878–1929) and Matsunosuke Onoe (1875–1926) – „the father of Japanese cinema” and its first star. Tandem’s activities are discussed in context of internal properties of early Japanese film industry. This includes the differentiation of its production into historical and contemporary films, methods of work in film production units, relations between these units and production companies and exhibitors, and connections between film industry and traditional Japanese theatre. The article discusses: production practices of Japanese film industry from the mid-1900s to late 1910s; Makino’s activities in the first period of his film career; establishment of his partnership with Onoe, characteristic of Makino’s cinema model and working methods in his film unit. It also tackles the development of Onoe as a social phenomenon and the circumstances of the dissolution of Makino’s and Onoe’s partnership.