Born James Richard Kelly, son of Lane Kelly and Ennis Kelly. Grew up in Midlothian, Virginia.
1997 Graduate of University of Southern California, where he studied Film.
Received only $9,000 to write and direct Donnie Darko (2001) with a budget of 4.5 million dollars.
Two of his favorite films are Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and The Road Warrior (1981). He has posters for them in his house.
His father worked for NASA on the Mars Viking Lander program in the 70s, developing the camera that made the first pictures from the Mars surface.
Wrote an unproduced script for Hal Lieberman and Jonathan Mostow's production company called "House at the End of the Street".
Originally wrote the screenplay for the movie Holes (2003) but after it was turned down, they had Louis Sachar do it instead. Kelly's script can be found on his website.
He was originally offered the chance to direct Valentine (2001), but turned the offer down.
Is good friends with film director Kevin Smith. He was a judge for Smith's short film contest Movies Askew when the twelve finalists were screened in Hollywood in 2006.
Currently producing 3 films ( Operation: Endgame (2010) - World's Greatest Dad (2009) - I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell (2009) ) and finishing post-production on his third feature length film The Box (2009) [August 2008]
Writing Domino (2005) a True Romance-style action/crime film for Tony Scott. [May 2004]
Casting is underway for The Box (2009) a high-concept, supernatural/thriller, that will begin filming in November. [July 2007]