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Local Producer Scores Award-Winning Film

August 17, 2012
By J.W. JOHNSON JR. Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

Chances are even if a person has never heard of Rick Witkowski, they've heard Rick Witkowski at some point in their life.

The Weirton-based composer and producer spent much of the 1990s creating theme songs for Nickelodeon children's network shows, including "Figure It Out," "Family Double Dare," "Guts" and "Action League Now."

Witkowski returns to television this evening, when his music will be heard in the documentary "Inocente," airing on the MTV network. The documentary, which already has won several awards at film festivals across the country, follows the 15-year-old Inocente on her journey to become an artist.

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Producer and musician Rick Witkowski recently scored the documentary film “Inocente.” Pictured at the premiere of the event are Witkowski and Inocente, the film’s star.

Homeless along with other family members for more than nine years and living as an undocumented immigrant, Inocente works to express herself and possibly change her life's path through art, using bright colors to change her bleak surroundings. She also uses her work to explain and understand her past, which is filled with domestic abuse and the constant threat of deportation.

The film's story is told entirely from the perspective of Inocente, who catches a break and is offered her first chance to display her work at an art show. Witkowski was approached by executive producer Albie Hecht, who, along with filmmakers Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine, wanted music that also expressed Inocente's personality and struggle.

Witkowski was approached in December with the challenge of completing the entire score in a month. Though busy playing guitar and singing on the B.E. Taylor and Friends Christmas Tour, where he is a staple and crowd favorite, Witkowski enlisted the help of 18-year-old singer Vanessa Campagna to help him compose and arrange the music. The duo created the score at Witkowski's Studio L in Weirton and, after several tries, produced exactly what the filmmakers were looking for.

"Once the producers heard the demos, and then the final versions, they thought the music and vocalizing really seemed to interpret what Inocente was doing," Witkowski said.

Witkowski represented the film at the Cleveland Film Festival earlier this year, and recently attended the premiere screening in New York City where he was able to speak with the film's star, who was more than pleased with the score and film documenting her life.

"She is still kind of taken aback by all of it," Witkowski said of Inocente. "It really has been a major life change for her, and she's really become a little rock star."

The documentary will air at 10 p.m. today on MTV, with replays being shown throughout the next few weeks.

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