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About the Filmmakers

James Ronald Whitney

James Ronald Whitney
writer • director • producer • editor • composer

" Just, Melvin"
" Telling Nicholas"
" TheWorkingGirl.com"
" GAMES PEOPLE PLAY: New York"
" GAMES PEOPLE PLAY: Hollywood"
" GAMES PEOPLE PLAY: The Bible Belt"

print version of bio

Now living in New York City, Emmy Award winning director, James Ronald Whitney (JamesRonaldWhitney.com) was born in Las Vegas. In his formative years, James (also known as Ron) was a competitive wrestler, golfer, racquetball player and gymnast; an instructor of martial arts and dance; and an avid skydiver who raised three monkeys as he backpacked through more than 80 countries. During Whitney's travels, he learned to speak Indonesian, German, Esperanto, and bits of other languages, and he is presently creating his own universal language, alphabet and numerical system.

At a young age, Whitney began his first career as a professional dancer which later included shows such as the popular "Fame," the campy "Dance Fever" and "Star Search," and the unforgettable "Chippendales," where he danced for a number of years during the '80s. At 17, Whitney was awarded an appointment to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, where, as a cadet, he joined both the cheerleading squad and the gymnastics team. He left the Academy for Arizona State University with a full scholarship in economics, where he joined that cheerleading squad and became president of a fraternity. He also opened a dance studio, and competed on numerous game shows, where, as an undefeated CBS game show contestant, he earned tens of thousands of dollars, while writing two game show treatments—one of them is the subject of his last film, "GAMES PEOPLE PLAY: New York."

At 21, Whitney married the tightrope walker from "Cirque Du Soleil." They met while she was starring in "CATS," and they eventually became dance partners. James then opened the largest store in Hollywood called "Oscar's Wilde," where, as his customers shopped, he and his wife walked the tightrope over the patrons' heads, and performed routines on a trapeze he had mounted 20 feet in the air. Eight years later, they divorced.

Throughout the 90's, Whitney served as Vice President at several Wall Street firms including John Hancock, and The Royal Bank of Canada. As a financial expert, he has been featured in The New York Times’ Business Day, and has been featured and on the cover of (to name a few) Wall Street rags including Research Magazine, Registered Representative and On Wall Street. Additionally, he has served on the Goldman Sachs Fund’s Blue Chip Council, Munder Fund’s Millenium Advisory Council, and Oppenheimer Fund’s Executive Council, where he has received countless Awards. During this time, in that Whitney is also an accomplished musician (saxophone, percussion, cello, piano) he wrote and scored two musicals, "Yesterday's Tear" and "Hoods," wrote and orchestrated dozens of songs, and scored two of his films, "Just, Melvin" and "TheWorkingGirl.com." Additionally, he wrote the theme song to his film, "Telling Nicholas," and the lyrics for his last two movies, "GAMES PEOPLE PLAY: New York" and "GAMES PEOPLE PLAY: Hollywood."

"Just, Melvin" (JustMelvin.com) was Whitney's directorial debut, premiering at the Sundance Film Festival 2000. His film won the "Best Documentary Award" at numerous film festivals across the country and was nominated for the 'Independent Spirit Award' in 2001. After playing theatrically in New York City and Los Angeles, HBO purchased the US broadcast rights for "Just, Melvin." April, 2001, the world broadcast premiere of Whitney's first film aired following HBO's "The Sopranos," and his movie was broadcast into the living rooms of nearly 10 million homes. "Just, Melvin" continues to air on HBO, and it continues to debut on television and in theaters around the world from Australia, Sweden and Israel to Canada, Holland and England, where it was one of only ten films chosen by the British Film Institute to tour the United Kingdom after premiering at the National Theatre in London. Whitney qualified for Academy Award consideration in 2001, and Emmy Award consideration in 2002.

James now lives in Tribeca, a neighborhood in Manhattan, only a few blocks from where the Twin Towers once stood. When the World Trade Center was attacked, he filmed in horror as he watched more than two dozen people jump from the Twin Towers to their deaths, and as both of the towers collapsed. After running from the debris cloud that forced Whitney from his home, he filmed the events that followed the Attack on America for the next 10 days, focusing on one story in particular--the mother of a 7-year-old boy named Nicholas was in Tower Two when it collapsed, and her family was certain that she was simply lost and would eventually find her way home. It took Nicholas' dad 10 days to tell his son that his mother is dead. In May, 2002, only days after The Museum of Television and Radio held a Special Screening for Whitney's film that had already been featured on "Oprah," a film that TIME Magazine described as "Wrenching, cathartic and even funny...but not easy to watch!," the world premiere of "Telling Nicholas" (TellingNicholas.com) debuted following "Six Feet Under" on HBO. Additionally, like "Just, Melvin," HBO continues to broadcast "Telling Nicholas," and the movie has played theatrically in San Francisco, New York City, and Los Angeles where it was part of the Academy Award's Special Presentation Series. In 2002, Whitney once again qualified for Academy Award consideration, and in 2003, he won the Emmy Award.

James is currently completing production on another film, "TheWorkingGirl.com," about his friend, Sharon, who is the mother of 5-year-old Jake. Struggling and single, in order to make ends meet, Sharon decided to enter the cyber-sex industry. The movie and its Web site, TheWorkingGirl.com, chronicle Whitney's journey through this world of cyber-sex in an attempt to help his friend make her business venture a success, while simultaneously addressing the issue of moms doing porn. Of the film, Rex Reed remarked "These are not your grandmother's working girls. Sad, funny, provocative, informative, energetic, and in your face! This remarkable film is all of this and more. The only thing it isn't... is boring. You won't find this stuff in the pages of Cosmo."

Whitney's latest film (part two of a planned feature-film trilogy) "GAMES PEOPLE PLAY: Hollywood" is currently in post-production. In 2003, Whitney completed part one of this series called, "GAMES PEOPLE PLAY New York," (GamesPeoplePlayNewYork.com) which premiered in Las Vegas last June to sold out audiences at the CineVegas International Film Festival 2003. Whitney then had a special screening on the 20th Century FOX studio lot in July, where it ultimately got picked up for distribution. March ‘04 marked the theatrical premiere of "GAMES PEOPLE PLAY: New York." That weekend, indieWIRE reported that, "Whitney's risqué feature seduced it's way to #1...grabbing the throne from Mel Gibson's 'PASSION OF THE CHRIST,' which had reigned for two weekends." In fact, during the theatrical run of "GAMES," which played in America's top10 movie markets, the reality movie became #1 at the box office for a second time after Ebert & Roeper featured it on their television show giving it a THUMBS UP! Roger Ebert called the film "Compulsively watchable!" and Rex Reed remarked that "...GAMES PEOPLE PLAY is from a very original director--grounded in the fast-track pulse of now, but so fresh, moving, outrageous and smart it's unlike anything you've seen before, with enough shocks and constant surprises to knock you right out of your shoes!"

As a filmmaker, Whitney has been featured on every major network, including (to name a few) "Oprah," "The Howard Stern Show, NBC’s "Celebrity Justice," "VH1," "Starz/Encore," "HBO," "CNN's Anderson Cooper," "Inside Edition," "CNN's Showbiz," "MSNBC," "NY1," "Fox & Friends," "The Jenny Jones Show," "CNNfn," and ABC's "The View." And on April 7, 2001, Roger Ebert featured "Just, Melvin" on "Ebert & Roeper And The Movies," calling the film "One of the angriest, most painful documentaries I have ever seen--and it's one of the best... you have never seen anything like it... THUMBS UP!" Additionally he has been featured in (to name a few) Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly, Premiere Magazine, New York Magazine, Variety, Hollywood Reporter, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Time Out Magazine, The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, New York Post, Details Magazine, Newsday, Village Voice, TV Guide, Daily News, and TIME Magazine.

After winning the Emmy, Whitney was selected by the National Television Academy to join their Blue Ribbon Panel of judges for the 2004 Emmy Awards. He is currently in pre-production with the third film in his "GAMES" trilogy, "GAMES PEOPLE PLAY: The Bible Belt.”

Six months after the first film in the GAMES PEOPLE PLAY trilogy hit theaters nationally, VH1 contracted Whitney to turn GAMES PEOPLE PLAY into a one-hour, weekly series. The first installment of that potential series was written, directed, executive produced, and hosted by Whitney in 2005. Whether it ultimately finds a home at VH1, or elsewhere, many are calling this potential new series, "The most twisted game that will ever get broadcast on national television!

www.JamesRonaldWhitney.com


FILMOGRAPHY
James Ronald Whitney
writer • director • producer • editor • composer

"Just, Melvin"

writer • director • producer • editor • theme song "Telling Nicholas"
writer • director • producer • editor • composer "TheWorkingGirl.com"
writer • director • producer • editor • lyricist "GAMES PEOPLE PLAY: New York"
writer • director • producer • editor • lyricist "GAMES PEOPLE PLAY: Hollywood"

"JUST, MELVIN" [USA 2000]
• Sundance Film Festival 2000: "Official Premiere"
• Independent Spirit Awards 2001: "Official Nominee"
• IFP/WEST [Special Screening, Los Angeles, 2001]
• Vancouver International Film Festival 2000: "Best Documentary Award"
• Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2000: "Best Documentary Award"
• South Beach Film Festival 2000: "Best Documentary Award"
• Newport Beach Film Festival 2000: "Best Documentary Award"
• South by Southwest Film Festival 2000: "Runner-Up Best Documentary Award"
• The National Film Board of Canada 2000: "Best Documentary Award"
• Art of Courage Award Winner 2001
• International Premieres: England, Canada, Australia, Sweden, Holland, Israel, Etc.
• HBO: "National Broadcast Premiere" [April, 2001]
• Qualified for both Emmy Award and Academy Award consideration

"TELLING NICHOLAS" [USA 2001]
• New York City [Theatrical Premiere, November, 2001]
• Tribeca Film Festival [May, 2002]
• Double-Take Documentary Film Festival [April, 2002]
• Museum of Television & Radio [Special Screening, May, 2002]
• HBO "Official National Broadcast Premiere" [May, 2002]
• San Francisco [Theatrical Premiere, August, 2002]
• Los Angeles [Theatrical Premiere, October, 2003]
• Academy Award Series Special Presentation [October, 2003]
• EMMY AWARD Winner [2003]

"THE WORKING GIRL.com" [USA scheduled for completion in 2004]

"GAMES PEOPLE PLAY: Hollywood" [USA currently in post-production]

"GAMES PEOPLE PLAY: New York" [USA 2003]
• CineVegas International Film Festival 2003: "Official Premiere" [June, 2003]
• 20th Century FOX Studio Special Presentation [July, 2003]
• New York City Theatrical Premiere [Opened March 12, 2004]
• Los Angeles Theatrical Premiere [Opened March 19, 2004]
• Philadelphia Theatrical Premiere [Opened March 26, 2004]
• San Francisco Theatrical Premiere [Opened April 2, 2004]
• Washinton DC Theatrical Premier [Opened April 9, 2004]
• Chicago Theatrical Premiere [Opened April 16, 2004]
• Detroit Theatrical Premier [Opened April 23, 2004]
• Boston Theatrical Premier [Opened May 7, 2004]
• Atlanta Theatrical Premier [Opened May 14, 2004]
• Dallas Theatrical Premier [Opened May 14, 2004]
• Missouri Theatrical Premier [Opened June 11, 2004]
• Pittsburgh Theatrical Premier [Opened June 12, 2004]

FILM AWARDS
• Independent Spirit Awards 2001: "Official Nominee"
• Vancouver International Film Festival 2000: "Best Documentary Award"
• Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2000: "Best Documentary Award"
• South Beach Film Festival 2000: "Best Documentary Award"
• Newport Beach Film Festival 2000: "Best Documentary Award"
• South by Southwest Film Festival 2000: "Runner-Up Best Documentary Award"
• Prism Award Winner 2002
• Art of Courage Award Winner 2001
• Freddie Award Winner 2002
• The National Film Board of Canada 2000: "Best Documentary Award"
• 2003 EMMY AWARD WINNER


 

 




Richard Reichgut:
co-executive producer

After graduating from the University of Texas with a bachelor's degree in computer science, Mr. Reichgut immediately began to apply his technology skills in the defense industry facilitating projects such as General Dynamics's Electric Boat division as a systems engineer at Harris Corporation. Following that, Reichgut entered the financial services industry by holding various technical management positions at Quotron-which was later purchased by CitiCorp.

Always a pulse on the future of technology, and impressed with the direction of Sun Microsystems, Mr. Reichgut left Quotron to join the Sun team, where he worked for the next 10 years, again holding technical management positions-this time in engineering, sales and marketing. Additionally, Reichgut championed the internet-wave when it was just in its infancy, and became influential in spearheading Sun's Java development and sales venture divisions.

After more than a decade at this technology bell-weather firm, the idea of joining a "start-up" became attractive to Reichgut; thus, he left Sun Microsystems to join the first of two smaller firms. First, he served as vice president of business development at Novera Software, an application server company (now Mercator Software), and finally in January of 1998, Reichgut joined New Era of Networks, Inc. (NEON), where he currently serves as the senior vice president of marketing.

Reichgut's involvement in the arts began at a young age. In fact, as a teenager he was enrolled as a student in the acting program at the renowned Circle in the Square. In 1998, in an attempt to balance his corporate and creative passions, Reichgut joined James Ronald Whitney as the co-executive producer of the movie "Just, Melvin," which premiered April 22, 2001 following "The Sopranos" on HBO. Reichgut has continued to be the executive producer of 3 more of Whitney's films. "TheWorkingGirl.com." "Telling Nicholas" (which premieres May 19, 2002 following "Six Feet Under" on HBO), and "GAMES PEOPLE PLAY: New York," which is currently in pre-production.

John Taggart:
cinematographer

John Taggart is a New York cinematographer who, during the early 90's, established himself as a producer/director at MTV. He has filmed some of the most recognizable faces in the world, including, the Dalai Lama, the Spice Girls, Anthony Hopkins, Will Smith, the New York Yankees, Les Paul, Nine Inch Nails, Martha Stuart, Cameron Diaz, Metallica, New York State Governor George Pataki, Lauryn Hill, Van Halen, and Rosie O'Donnell.

The lens of Mr. Taggart is drawn toward diversity, and in addition to well-known faces, John has filmed some of the world's most exotic places. From Jerusalem's historic Great Wall and Area 51 in Roswell, New Mexico to the hot sands of Jamaica and Maui.

Recently, he served as both cinematographer and co-producer of "JUST, MELVIN," a documentary that was featured at the Sundance Film Festival 2000 and has won at several film festivals since its Park City premiere. And with clients like Epic Records, MTV, VH1 and Oxygen Media, this new millennium is already proving to be both an exciting and challenging one for Taggart.


Production 920:
co-producer

The husband and wife team of Sarah and John Taggart established Production 920 as a New York-based film and video house that services a list of clients including Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, Cartoon Network, Oxygen Media, Launch Media and The Rosie O'Donnell Show.

With their film and video crews, they are able to bring their creations to audiences worldwide with top-notch DP's, non-linear editing, and cutting edge producers and directors all under one roof. One stop shopping. Heading the roster is cinematographer John Taggart, who is in charge of both the film and video crews. Sarah, oversees the entire operation, and her talents over the past four years of 920's existence has allowed for numerous multi-camera film and video shoots, music videos and commercial spots.

Currently, this husband and wife team is in production of an animated pilot for VH1 and a science fiction pilot for syndication. Additionally, they are developing three feature films, and initiating a multi-media arm. "JUST, MELVIN," a documentary co-produced by the Taggarts was featured at the Sundance Film Festival in January, 2000 in Park City, Utah. It has won at several film festivals since its Park City premiere.



Connie Walsh:
co-editor

Connie Walsh received her BA in Art and History from Colgate University in 1989 and in 1991 she attended Rhode Island School of Design and worked in the sculpture and film departments. Upon graduation, Walsh began working at Film/Video Arts as a freelance editor and the assistant to post production coordinator in New York. She edited a rough cut of "Perfume Creek," a documentary on the struggle to clean up Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal and "Last Call," a melodrama-in-miniature which attended numerous film festivals.

Walsh was later hired as the coordinator of a new post production house called Postworks. While there she also shot and edited a video installation called "REC" for a solo show at the Marianne Boesky Gallery. She recently edited a 16mm short by Chris Young called "Mary Mary." Walsh had her second solo show in New York in February 2000 at the Sculpture Center with the premier of three video installations, "Skin," "plumball," and "LTD."

Connie was co-editor for the film "JUST, MELVIN" with James Ronald Whitney. This movie is a feature-length documentary portraying the cycles and consequences of abuse, and was featured in the line-up at the Sundance Film Festival 2000. It has won at several film festivals since its Park City premiere.



Brent Argovitz:
co-composer

Brent Argovitz, born in Houston, Texas has been a musician since the day he was born.. He refused any traditional training and taught himself how to play drums, guitar, keyboards and most other instruments. After attending the University of Texas and The Art Institute of Houston he moved to New York to pursue music as his profession.

He toured with groups like Expose, Taylor Dayne and Haddaway and finally became part of the producer, songwriter team for the multi-platinum dance Real McCoy. He co-wrote some of their biggest hits, served as musical director and played drums with the group as he led them on several worldwide tours supporting their two albums.

He recently co-scored the film "JUST, MELVIN" in collaboration with his long time friend and writing partner, James Ronald Whitney.



Visit the Web sites for the Director's other films
TheWorkingGirl.com || Telling Nicholas || GAMES PEOPLE PLAY
© 2000-2004Tripod Below the Camera