Scot Sax Salutes the Songwriter’s Struggle with Acclaimed Short Film, “Playback is a Bitch”

Published on August 11, 2020

An award-winning songwriter and videographer who has spent more than 25 years onstage, in the writing room, and behind the camera, Scot Sax turns a new corner with Playback is a Bitch, a short film that combines his love of music, cinema, and the tireless pursuit of the muse.

Starring songwriters like Cody Brooks, Bee Taylor, Nicki Bluhm, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Oliver Wood, Langhorne Slim, and Suzie Brown, Playback is a Bitch tells the story of The Roller, a musician struggling to find the middle ground between a talent that’s mercurial and an industry that’s merciless. The project began as a solo album, with Sax heading to Southern Ground Studios in Nashville to record an album of cinematic songs. Joining him were some of Nashville’s most celebrated musicians and studio hands, including guitarist John Jackson (previously of Bob Dylan’s band) and engineer/mixer Brandon Bell. The goal, Sax says, was to make “a soundtrack to a movie that doesn’t exist.”

PLAYBACK IS A BITCH from the album “Payback Is A Bitch”

It was only after the recordings were finished that Sax began expanding the project into something bigger, formulating his idea for a left-of-center art film that used his songs to tell a broader story about the music industry. Directed by Sax, scripted by Benjamin Stranger, and shot by Josh Shreve, Playback is a Bitch is a project that expands beyond Sax’s old-school, single-camera aesthetic, shining new light on the range not only of his interests, but his abilities, too.

An official selection for the Toronto Short Film Channel Festival, the South Film and Arts Academy Festival, and Indie Short Fest – as well the winner for Best Director at the 2020 Short To The Point festival – Playback is a Bitch follows Sax’s full-length indie debut, Platinum Rush. It also marks the latest milestone in a cinematic career that has found Sax creating video content for everyone from Lucinda Williams to Malcolm Holcombe. 

Meanwhile, the Playback is a Bitch soundtrack – whose songs appear throughout the film itself – shines new light on Sax’s songwriting. A solo artist who kicked off his career as frontman of the RCA-affiliated band Wanderlust, Sax has opened for The Who, toured with Robert Plant and Allison Krauss, co-written a Grammy-winning duet for Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, taught a songwriting course at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, and landed songs in iconic movies like American Pie and TV shows like CSI:NY. He’s played all the parts: singer, songwriter, sideman, producer, opening act, and major-label headliner. With Playback is a Bitch, he reflects the otherworldly reality of what it’s like to be a musician.

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