Lights, camera, action

Local filmmaker makes his mark in the film industry

By Heather R. Breaux

August 02, 2006 at 11:10 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Two of Whitney’s sons, Chad and Zack, operate the camera and record the sound for a scene with actor Michael Dardant.
Two of Whitney’s sons, Chad and Zack, operate the camera and record the sound for a scene with actor Michael Dardant.
While New Orleans has been getting nationwide recognition for its role in the film industry, one local resident, Richard "Doc" Whitney of Destrehan, is busy creating his own Hollywood right here in St. Charles Parish.

Whitney, a self described lover of entertainment, has to his credit two short films, "Red Cars" and "Deeper than the Ocean." Both films were written and directed by Whitney.

"Red Cars," set in New Orleans, is described as a ghost story, and "Deeper than the Ocean," is categorized as a thriller.

"Deeper than the Ocean," which was shot on location in Luling, is Whitney's second short feature, and has been a great learning experience for him.

"Theses short features are a hands on school for me," said Whitney, "If you really want to make your mark in this industry, you have to be able to go out there, fall flat on your face and make the mistakes."

During the production for "Red Cars," Whitney learned quickly how crucial choosing the right location is in filmmaking.

"We filmed "Red Cars" on Napoleon Ave. in New Orleans, two blocks from Memorial Mercy Hospital, and just about every 15 minutes we would hear ambulance sirens," said Whitney, "So when it came time to begin production for "Deeper than the Ocean," we thought carefully about which location to choose."

When outlining a project, Whitney likes to keep his productions on the local level using Louisiana talent and resources.

"Sometimes we go on autopilot in our everyday lives and not notice the extraordinary stories that surround us here in Louisiana," said Whitney. "But with filmmaking, you can capture those moments and bring them to life."

In both films, Whitney chose Shanna Forrestall, a local actress, to star in the lead role.

"Shanna is a very accomplished actress who is great at what she does, and if in the future she fits the part, I would be happy to work with her again," said Whitney.

Another reason Whitney prefers to keep his productions local is economics. 

"It costs a lot of money to make a film, so filming locally helps to keep the budget at an affordable level," said Whitney.

Many of the cinematic effects of his short features, which normally would require costly film equipment, are developed by creative editing, and by utilizing everyday household items.

"Believe it or not, the rain scenes in "Deeper than the Ocean" were created by using a combination of sunlight, camera angles and a water hose," said Whitney.

Whitney belongs to a group of professional actors based out of New Orleans, but has been toying with the idea of developing his own local acting organization.

"I would like to create a group that would allow the younger actors in the parish to get involved, possibly by working with the local libraries to start up an acting class for beginners," said Whitney.

Currently, Whitney is anxious to begin production for his full-length screenplay, "The November Relic," that tells the story of a woman who, by chance, discovers the identity of the person who assassinated John F. Kennedy.

"This will be my first full-length feature film, and I will soon be working on a pre-production package for interested investors and distributors," said Whitney.

When asked about his future in the film industry, Whitney said that within the next ten years he would like to have completed two full-length films, but until then he will focus his time on his family and smaller projects.

In addition to his active presence in filmmaking, Whitney has had appearances in several major motion pictures such as the 2003 blockbuster hit "Runaway Jury" and the not yet released film starring Michael Keaton, "The Last Time."

When Whitney is not playing the role of director, or making cameos in his films, he has his hands full as the father of 14 children, and actively operates a commercial collection agency with this oldest son.

Both of Whitney's short films can be viewed online on at video.google.com.

Anyone interested in working with Whitney can send all inquiries to Gulfrim Pictures P.O. Box 501 Destrehan, LA 70047.




View other articles written By Heather R. Breaux

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