As an award-winning filmmaker, Whitney’s directorial debut began with the Sundance Film Festival premiere of his film "Just, Melvin" (www.JustMelvin.com), where he went on to win the "Best Documentary Award" at numerous film festivals across the country and internationally, was nominated for the `Independent Spirit Award,’ and qualified for both Academy Award® and an Emmy Award® consideration. After playing theatrically coast-to-coast in the U.S., HBO purchased the broadcast rights, and the world television premiere of Whitney’s first film aired following their highest rated hit show, "The Sopranos." Honored by The British Film Institute, “Just, Melvin” then premiered internationally at London’s National Theatre before hitting the big and small screens across the globe.
When the 9/11 Attack occurred, James was living in Tribeca, a neighborhood in Manhattan, only a few blocks from where the Twin Towers once stood. He filmed in horror as he watched dozens of 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 Museum of Television and Radio held a Special Screening for Whitney`s critically acclaimed film that emerged from the ashes of 9/11, “Telling Nicholas,” about a 7-year-old boy who lost his mother in the attack. Featured on "Oprah" and bringing her audience to tears, TIME Magazine described the film, as "Wrenching, cathartic and even funny...but not easy to watch!" The premiere of "Telling Nicholas" (www.TellingNicholas.com) debuted following the hit show, "Six Feet Under," on HBO. The movie played theatrically coast-to-coast in the U.S., and Whitney again qualified for Academy Award® consideration. “Telling Nicholas” was selected to be part of the Academy Awards’ Special Presentation Series, and later that same year, James won the Emmy Award®.
Another of Whitney’s films, “TheWorkingGirl.com,” addresses the issue of mothers becoming involved in the cybersex industry, and includes counseling sessions with the mother and subject of the film, Sharon, and a number of child psychologists. 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!" In that all three of the above-mentioned films deal with children, over the past decade, Whitney has received numerous humanitarian awards for his work with kids, as well as victims of rape and molestation, and has even worked directly with organizations such as Love Our Children USA, Save Our Children, and the world’s largest—Childhelp USA. Whitney continues to contribute philanthropically whenever possible. On September 11th, 2011, after being introduced to a sold out audience by Stephen Pougnet, the Mayor of Palm Springs, Whitney was presented with another prestigious award by California Assemblyman, V. Manuel Perez, following the special encore presentation of Whitney’s 9/11 film, “Telling Nicholas,” on the largest movie screen in Palm Springs, as a tribute to the 10-year anniversary of the World Trade Center Attack, wherein all proceeds were given to Variety—The Children’s Charity of the Desert.
Whitney then completed the first two films in his reality feature-film trilogy called, "GAMES PEOPLE PLAY,” which premiered in Las Vegas to sold out audiences, followed by a special screening on the 20th Century FOX studio lot, where it got picked up for distribution. In it’s opening 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 top 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 Whitney’s controversial film "Compulsively watch-able!" and after attending the premiere, 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!" MTV Networks contracted Whitney to turn his film into a one-hour, weekly series for VH1, and that first installment of the potential future series has now been written, directed, executive produced, and hosted by Whitney. Assuming it will eventually join the MTV Networks’ VH1 line-up, it has already been touted as, "The most twisted game that will ever air on national television!”
As a filmmaker, James Ronald Whitney has been featured in TIME Magazine, Newsweek, Entertainment Weekly, Premiere Magazine, New York Magazine, Variety, Hollywood Reporter, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Time Out Magazine, Newsday, Village Voice, Details Magazine, The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, New York Post, TV Guide, and Daily News--to name a few. Additionally, Whitney has been featured on every major network, including "Oprah," "The Howard Stern Show,” “Anderson Cooper 360,” "MSNBC," "Starz/Encore," ABC`s "The View," "HBO," NBC’s "Celebrity Justice," "VH1," "Inside Edition," "CNN Headline News," "CNN`s Showbiz," “MTV,” “The Jenny Jones Show," "NY1," and "Fox & Friends," among others, and in addition to receiving the “THUMBS UP” on "Ebert & Roeper” for “GAMES PEOPLE PLAY: New York,” Roger Ebert previously featured "Just, Melvin" on his TV show calling Whitney’s 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!” For that film, James also received the coveted THUMBS UP! After winning the coveted Emmy Award® for “Telling Nicholas,” Whitney was selected by the National Television Academy to join their Blue Ribbon Panel of judges.