Read Warren's new book My Odyssey: A Life in Educational Media 1946-1971 Also, read Everote's essay on the development of the Physical Science Study Committee (PSSC) film series. Warren passed away on December9, 2013, at the age of 100, two month after his book was released.
The following biography was written by Anne Purcell. Interviews were conducted in February of 2012 with Mr. Everote as the source of all unattributed quotes and information. For a list of films produced by Everote, visit his filmography.
Film Executive and Producer Warren Everote was born October 12, 1913. His path to a career in educational film was a circuitous one. From his first teaching jobs in urban Los Angeles, he rose to the presidencies of both Encyclopedia Britannica Films and Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Development Division, some of the most prolific producers of educational films in the United States.
Everote completed his Master’s in History at UCLA, and enrolled in a rotating substitute program for secondary schools in Los Angeles. During these years, he rarely used films in his lectures --- all of the films and equipment for the County educational system were kept at a storage facility in downtown L.A. and were therefore very difficult to access. Instead, he engaged the students with a variety of methods, tying “provocative discussion and special experiments" into the basic chemistry curriculum. By 1940 he was acting as head of the Science department at Susan Miller Dorsey High School in Los Angeles. At this time Professor Samuel Ralph Powers of Teachers College, Columbia University was visiting Los Angeles, and sat in on one of Everote’s chemistry classes. Everote was offered and accepted a position in the PhD program in Educational Science at Columbia.
It was Everote’s relationship with Powers that led to his eventual collaboration with Encyclopedia Britannica. In 1943, while at Columbia and acting as a substitute lecturer for Powers, an employee of Electrical Research Products Incorporated (ERPI), Hubert Evans, approached Everote. ERPI was interested in improving their collection of science films, and Evans asked Everote to adapt his lecture into a script for the company. ERPI was in the midst of the sale to The University of Chicago, and transitioning to Encyclopedia Britannica Films, a change which would be completed by the time Everote joined the company.
Everote was introduced to the Vice President of Research at Encyclopedia Britannica Films, who sat him down and explained the pertinent elements of scriptwriting. Everote was also introduced to cinematographer John Walker, who would become his frequent collaborator at EB. Following several re-writes and a screen test, Everote’s lecture became Simple Cells (1943), shot by John Walker, with Everote performing before the camera.
Following his graduation, Everote enlisted in the Navy, working for the Bureau of Ordnance, taking still photography and screening combat motion pictures. His commanding officer commended him for being “brilliant in all types of training films and photographic work…. a great still picture photographer.” During his time in the Navy, Everote continued to script films for EBF. After the war, in 1946, Everote signed on with EBF full-time as an associate in Research and Production. His contemporaries in production were filmmakers such as Isidore Mankofsky, John Barnes, and Milan Herzog. By 1954, Everote had been promoted to Vice President of Production. By 1958, he was in the midst of organizing EBF’s Chemistry Introductory Course films, using expertise from his years of teaching high school chemistry courses.
Meanwhile, the senior staff at EB were busy defending the merits of academic film to legislators in Washington. The Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare was holding sessions in relation to the second session on Science and Education for National Defense. EB president Maurice Mitchell had traveled to the capitol with many cans of film and a fervent belief: that EB’s high-quality educational product deserved government funding so that students in financially-strapped districts could afford to see them. After the first screening, the members of the Senate asked him for a second night of excerpts, just to be sure. The senators brought their children and families, and then invited the members of the House of Representatives. Finally, a third screening of EB's educational films was arranged for the President and his family.
By 1961, Everote had been appointed President of Encyclopedia Britannica Films. During this time, he operated under the guidance of the Board of Directors, including Maurice Mitchell and Senator William Benton. Under his tenure, extraneous spending on production costs was curtailed, and new artists were recruited into the company, including William Deneen and Linda Gottlieb.
In 1965, Everote was asked to take the Managing Director position of Encyclopaedia Britannica Ltd. in London. William Benton’s son, Charles, took over the presidency of EBF following several years in sales and market research. Unfortunately Charles’ leadership style clashed with that of the Board of Directors, and he was removed from his position in July of 1967. Leaderless, EBF again went through a restructuring, and Everote was called back from England to serve as the Executive Vice President for the film division. When Mitchell left EBF to take a position at the University of Denver, Everote was promoted into his old position again, where he remained until his departure from the company in 1971.
Despite the clashes amongst upper management, Everote remembers with fondness his time producing films. On location for Monarch Butterfly Story (1950) in the Everglades, he recalled that the director "would pray every morning for a sunny shooting day.” Everote also encountered setbacks during the production of Major Religions, where an unwitting clerk at the customs office accidentally exposed a shipment of expensive footage that had shot on location in India. Ultimately, Everote is proudest of his work on Ears and Hearing (1950), featuring microphotography of the vibrating auditory system of a deceased man. This was the very first time that the inner ear had ever been photographed.
As was the case amongst many of the staff and filmmakers at Encyclopedia Britannica, Everote maintained a career-long concern with the civil and legal rights of marginalized social groups. Beginning with his teaching experiences in urban Los Angeles public schools, Everote followed the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement closely. He recalls traveling to Birmingham, Alabama and delivering the same lecture on education twice: once to the white teachers, and once to the black teachers. During the question and answer segment, he questioned them: if these teachers were aware of the regressive nature of a segregated school system, then why did they stay?
Everote’s struggles to understand and aid the fortunes of oppressed groups continues to this day, he remains an active correspondence with the editorial staff of his local newspaper. Everote currently resides in Santa Barbara, CA, where he continues to write and contributes to several philanthropic organizations. He is in the beginning stages of publishing an account of his years with Encyclopedia Britannica. Everote remains in touch with his colleagues from EBF and their families to this day.
Everote, Warren. "A course in practical chemistry for high school students." School and
Society. (1941): 185-221. Print.
Everote, Warren. "Prospective Interview Questions: Academic Film Archive of North America." Message to Anne C Purcell. 25 Feb 2012. E-mail.
Everote, Warren. Telephone Interview. 24 Feb 2012.
Everote, Warren. "Term problems in secondary school science." Science Education. (1943): 45-72. Print.
 Everote, Warren. "Term problems in secondary school science." Science Education (1943): 45-72. Everote, Warren. "A course in practical chemistry for high school students." School and Society (1941): 185-221.
 Everote, Warren. "Prospective Interview Questions: Academic Film Archive of North America." Message to Anne C Purcell. 25 Feb 2012. E-mail.
 Everote, Warren. Telephone Interview. 24 Feb 2012.