Raymond West started out as an apprentice in the film industry in 1909. Before that, the native of Chicago was a gas bill collector. In 1912, he worked as a special-effects expert for the Thomas Ince company. West began directing a short time later, but also kept on doing special effects. An excellent example of his work can be seen in Reginald Barker's 1914 film Wrath of the Gods. He later worked with Ince and Barker on the epic Civilization (1916).