The band formed in 2008. Three of the five members (Robert Stevenson & Spencer Walker) had been members of another band named Shouting Myke, which formed in early 2000. In 2005 two members (Benn Clarke and Steve Meyer-Rassow) left the band and were replaced by Ali Hussain, whose older brother is noted classical conductor Leo Hussain. The newly formed band chose the name 'A Silent Film' after the lead singer, Robert Stevenson, wrote a song using the melody from a song from a Charlie Chaplin film; the band agreed they liked the style and chose the name as a reference to Charlie Chaplin's many silent films.
The band released their first single in 2007, an EP titled The Projectionist. They performed on the BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury in 2007.
The band cites its influences as 'Love, sex and death, and everything in between'.