In 1915, Richard Norman made his first film for his independent company. Sleepy Sam the Sleuth was a one-reel comedic short with a slapstick story line involving a herd of sheep, a pair of chicken thieves, a detective, Italian anarchists and, the film’s star and would-be hero, Sleepy Sam. Featuring local talent, the film tells the story of a young man who falls asleep and dreams that he successfully apprehends a pair of chicken thieves.
To date, Sleepy Sam the Sleuth is the only known surviving example of Norman’s earliest films, shot repeatedly in various towns using local talent. Norman would contract with local officials to shoot and screen the films, splitting the profits. Other films produced in this way included Laura the Lobbyist and The Wrecker, which later would be revamped with an expanded script and an African American cast. That final version of The Wrecker, renamed The Green Eyed Monster would be the first of the “race films” for which Norman became famous.