Frank J. Avella Talks To
Filmmaker James Eades
Photo: James Eades
James Eades recently produced
the documentary Josie: A Story About Williams
Syndrome, for Vision Project, which was showcased
at festivals around the country. He was also involved
in the web series, The Back of the Busk
that profiles New York City street artists and has
gathered hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube.
I recently had the opportunity to ask the indie
filmmaker a few questions.
J. Avella: Did you always want to be a filmmaker?
Eades: I've always enjoyed having a camera
in my hands! I actually used to annoy my parents
when I was younger, because I always wanted to be
operating the camera when they were taking home
videos. So it was definitely always something that
I loved. However, I didn't always see it as a viable
career choice. It wasn't until I had finished University
that I decided it was something that I could - and
should - pursue as a profession.
J. Avella: Do you have any aspirations to
work in different areas of the industry?
Eades: I feel like I already get to work
in a number of different roles, depending on the
projects that I’m working on. Sometimes I
am the Director of Photography, sometimes I’m
the editor, and I’ll find myself producing,
shooting, operating lights and sound, and editing,
as well. It’s actually part of what makes
this job so creative and satisfying, that I’m
never doing the exact same thing two days in a row!
Aside from that, I would definitely like to try
my hand at directing more - and I’m often
inspired to write a screenplay or a short film.
J. Avella: You came to NYC three years ago
from the UK. Why New York? Had you ever visited
the U.S. before? Were you at all frightened?
Eades: I actually first visited New York
in 2002 with my Dad, and came back a couple of times
after that. I remember being completely enamored
with the city from the very first time I visited,
and thinking how much I would love to live there.
When the opportunity first arose in 2011, I jumped
at the chance. I was never really frightened because
by then it already seemed like such a familiar place
to me. I was definitely apprehensive about taking
the leap - but not scared. And I am always so grateful
that I did because it has led to amazing professional
success and opportunities.
J. Avella: You studied film in England and
then trained at the New York Film Academy in New
York. How important would you say formal training
is as a cinematographer, as opposed to learning
in the field?
Eades: I wouldn't say that formal training
is the only way to get into the industry, but it
definitely helps start you off on the right foot.
NYFA gave me a great starting point, and being able
to learn from professionals with such amazing experience
in the industry was fantastic. At the same time,
there are plenty of incredibly successful people
who learned filmmaking by “doing, " and
not having a formal education is by no means a barrier
to success in this field. And really, when I graduated
from NYFA my training didn't end. I learn new things
every single day on set and from colleagues, and
am always striving to improve. I don't think you
ever stop trying to become better.
J. Avella: You’ve been involved in
numerous projects since you’ve come to NYC,
both working as part of large crews and being a
one-man production, writing, shooting and editing
team. What have you enjoyed most about these different
James Eades: I love
working as part of a team on set. It's great to
be able to bounce ideas off of people and really
collaborate on a project. Being a one-man production
is such a different experience because you really
have to trust yourself and believe in your skill
and knowledge without having the safety net of another
set of eyes on a shot or a second opinion on an
edit. I probably enjoy both aspects equally, as
each situation brings its own challenges and its
J. Avella: What do you love most about New
Eades: I love the fast-paced nature of life
in New York. Doing the job I do, I get to see a
lot of different parts of the city, and have filmed
in some really iconic buildings and locations that
I would not have had access to otherwise. I love
the fact that one day I can be filming at a studio
in Queens and the next day, a millionaire's apartment
on the Upper East Side. The variety really is something
I don't think you can get in any other city in the
world. And you can't beat a good happy hour after
a long day’s work.
J. Avella: Who are your heroes?
Eades: I wouldn’t say that I have any
heroes, exactly. I have many people whom I admire
and strive to emulate, but I've always been cautious
about focusing on my own career. I am always really
inspired by people I work with who have built up
their careers independently and are producing content
that they are passionate about and really believe
in. I think that is the dream: being able to wake
up everyday and work on something you 100% believe
J. Avella: If you could work with anyone,
living or dead, whom would you choose and why?
Eades: Well, I wouldn’t mind working
with Cary Fukunaga, the director of this year’s
HBO smash hit True Detective. The series
was incredible from a technical point-of-view, the
aesthetics and camera work on it were out of this
world. They had this one crazy action scene in one
of the final episodes that was shot in a single,
five-minute continuous take. The vision and work
that goes into something like that is just unbelievable.
I’m definitely inspired by people like that
who keep trying to push the limits of what we can
do with cameras.
J. Avella: What projects are you currently
excited to be involved in?
Eades: I am involved in an online miniseries
called The Back of The Busk, which is a
really amazing project. Each episode we tell the
story of a different artist who performs on the
streets and in the subway of New York. The first
season has 19 episodes that can be found on YouTube,
and it was really well received. We’re hoping
to start work on season 2 very soon. As well as
being a really interesting series, it's incredibly
gratifying to be able to showcase the stories of
people who have truly amazing backgrounds but don't
have an outlet to share them.
For more info on James, visit