Zecca was a cafe entertainer, playing the cornet, before switching to film in his mid-30s. His first film credit, Le Muet mélomane (1899), was the film version of a musical fantasy which he and a colleague named Charlus performed in Parisian cafés at the time.
At the Paris World Fair (Exposition Universelle) in 1900, French film manufacturer, Charles Pathé, hired Zecca to assist him in setting up his pavilion. Zecca did so well that Pathé hired him as assistant to the director of his film factory in Vincennes.
Between 1900 and 1907, Zecca directed or supervised hundreds of Pathé films. After Pathé bought the rights to Star films, Zecca started editing George Melies' films. He also acted, produced, and on occasion wrote films. He co-directed La Vie et la passion de Jésus Christ (1903), which with a length of 44 minutes was one of the first feature-length films about Jesus.
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