About the Film

Raymond Scott with one of his electronic instrumentsThe feature-length documentary is a music-filled biographical film about the life and work of Raymond Scott. It also is a personal investigation into the father/son dynamic — what it means to have a famous father obsessed with his work and the consequent impact on the parent/child relationship.

Raymond Scott was more comfortable with technology than with people, including his own children. This personal angle is intertwined with the compelling story of a true American music innovator — one who had a meteoric rise to household-name success, followed by a slow spiral into obscurity and now, posthumously, a growing acknowledgment of his central role in modern music and music technology.

In recent years his work has been performed by groups ranging from Rush, Devo, and They Might Be Giants to the Kronos Quartet, and sampled by numerous DJs and hip-hop acts, and adapted by the virtual super-group Gorillaz.

This documentary is a vibrant tapestry of stills, home movies, film and television excerpts (Scott was orchestra leader on the weekly Your Hit Parade TV show during the 1950s), musical performances and interviews.

My father recorded virtually everything said in the studio, including his phone conversations, and there are lengthy audio interviews. Therefore much of the story is told in his own words — revealing a complicated, often dysfunctional family; at times humorous in conveying Scott’s own quirkiness, and serious in dealing with his rigorous devotion to all aspects of his creative and technical life.

Naturally it is scored with Scott’s music, covering a wide range of styles, including swinging jazz pieces played by the Raymond Scott Quintette, the groundbreaking group that brought him his early fame in the 1930s. In his middle years he returned to his first love — electronics, and he was a synthesizer pioneer. His crowning invention was the Electronium, a “simultaneous composition and performance machine” that was purchased by Motown. There are also cartoon excerpts — Carl Stalling, the music director at Warner Brothers adapted 20 of Scott’s quirky, original tunes (“Powerhouse” being the most famous) to amplify the adventures of Bugs Bunny and company.

Family interviews include his daughter Carrie, and two of his wives; first wife Pearl, and third, Mitzi. Unfortunately his second wife and protege, the singer/actress Dorothy Collins, died in 1994, before production of this film commenced; the fascinating story of their relationship is told through the recollections of others. Other interviewees include multi-Academy Award®-winning movie soundtrack composer John Williams (“STAR WARS“), whose father Johnny was the drummer in the Raymond Scott Quintette; musician, movie & TV score writer, and DEVO co-founder, Mark Mothersbaugh, Grammy®-nominated clarinetist Don Byron, Music and concert Producer Hal Willner (“Saturday Night Live“), co-inventor of the MOOG Synthesizer, Herb Deutsch, turntablist, producer, and author, Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky; Grammy®-nominated violinist Jeremy Cohen, and many others.  The film is the defining portrait of this under-recognized American icon.

16 responses

3 02 2008
Catherine Hiller

This is a very skillful piece of film about a real innovator. I’m especially intrigued by the personal elements: this man who didn ‘t want children had four –and probably failed them all. Perhaps there are other children of celebrities who feel the same way, and it might be illuminating to interview one or two of them. Great project!

13 03 2008
Jack Ruttan

It was nice meeting you at the Raymond Scott Centennial Event concertin Montreal, and the talk by Irwin Chusid the night before. Check my blog for impressions and photos (very grainy) of the concert: mruttan.ca/mruttan.ca/blog/2008/03/raymond-scott.html.

17 11 2008
Kevin Oppendike

Looking very forward to seeing the finished film. I hope it will eventually be available as a DVD to buy.

25 08 2009
Örn Leifsson

I was browsing for Scott on youtube and found the trailer for this documentary and I´m really looking forward to this.
I first heard about Scott while reading a Looney Tunes book called “Thats all folks by Steve Schneider.”(1988) and on page 54 is a short article about the music of Raymond Scott and I had never heard about him and I´m quite knowledgeable about music, so I thought I must check this guy out and went on Amazon and found the CD Reckless Nights and Turkish Twilight and was blown away.
Being a fan of Spike Jones and Frank Zappa this music was taylor made for me.
I now have most of the available CD´s and think he´s a Genius and thankfully his music is getting to be more known now than it was 11 years ago when I bought my first Scott CD.
I play the piano and I have recently found the sheet music for Powerhouse and boy is that going to be fun to practise.

Best wishes from Reykjavik Iceland.

23 12 2009

thanx to have do this, for your father, for all of us !!! How can we get it now ?
Ricardo from France/Bolivia

1 02 2010
Stan Warnow

hi Ricardo–thanks for geting in touch. I am currently planning on releasing the film on DVD, and I hope that will be around June, 2010. Check back on the website for updates!

11 02 2010
Roberta X

I’m looking forward to this film — I found Raymond Scott not quite by accident: “Powerhouse” had haunted me off and on for years and one day I went web-wandering in search of for the source of that “animation music.” Imagine my delight and surprise at finding the creator of it was even more gadget-mad than I am. –A bit obsessed and the personal price was very high, but he certainly left us all many good things. My very best wishes to you, Stan. Thank you.

16 02 2010
Stan Warnow

Roberta–thanks for your comment and good wishes. I’ll add you to my growing mailing list for when I begin to seriously promote the DVD etc.!

All best,
Stan Warnow

17 04 2010
Jeannie Weller

Please hurry! Congrats on great press so far. Very resonant regarding parent situation.BUT: mainly huge forever WB short fan, mid-century fan, docu-fan.
The trailer itself is excellent- can’t wait to see the whole film. Thank you for doing it.

24 05 2010

I have been waiting for this.
I am sitting on my couch with my 78 year old father who has dementia/Alzheimers.
Just to see his legs move to the music and the excitement on his face when hearing powerhouse was enough. the trailer woke my fathers brain up if just for a moment.
I need this film NOW.

31 05 2010
Stan Warnow

Comments like this are what help me keep moving forward–truly inspirational. . . . I’m working on the DVD and it should be available by mid-June, so (to all) check back for updates, and sign up on the link to the right on top of the page so every time there’s a new post, you’ll be informed!

22 06 2010
Sheer Zed

Cannot wait for this to come out on regionless DVD. I am so excited. Congratulations on the completion of this very important and essential celebration of one of the most important and fascinating figures in the history of electronic music. Irwin Chusid (Songs in the Key of Z) and Dana Countryman (Cool & Strange Music Magazine) turned me on to Raymond’s work and achievements. This film will I’m sure be the cherry on a much needed cake of study and research. Well done Stan, you the man!

15 02 2011
Plattfon Records

We wold like to order your CD for resale. Do you have official distributors.
Best Regards,

11 07 2012
Martin Brooks

Wow! Can’t wait to see this. I’ve been a fan of Raymond Scott’s for many years and I have that Columbia Legacy CD of “The Music of Raymond Scott: Reckless Nights and Turkish Twilights” as well as the Warner Brothers “Carl Stalling Project” in which much of the music is based on Stalling’s work.

Would love to see that DVD issued as a Blu-ray.

12 07 2012
Stan Warnow

Hi Martin–thanks for getting in touch. Not sure about a Blu-Ray, though in fact I do have Blu-Ray’s I make myself for projection purposes. But making them commercially is another matter. Not sure the market is out there, but just got a good NY Times review, so maybe that will be the breakthrough!
Stan Warnow

2 12 2014

Hello there.i was a kid in the middle forties and would run home from school to listeh to Raymond Scott on the radio-every week day on CBS radio and was very impressed with him,and his young SINGER DOROTHY cOLLINS..uNFORTUNATELY Dorothy died so young,but there are a couple great computer sites about her and her work.I was puzzled that your DAD and Miss .Collins did not work together more-there Designs in music segment on Bell Telephone Hour was masterful.Good luck-Glad to see your bringing your Dad’s work alive.I had a father who was a workhorse also,and I suffered greatly too.the best to you.

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