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Frank J. Avella’s
Film Column

Frank J. Avella Talks To
Filmmaker James Eades

Opposite 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.

Frank J. Avella: Did you always want to be a filmmaker?

James 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.

Frank J. Avella: Do you have any aspirations to work in different areas of the industry?

James 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.

Frank 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?

James 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.

Frank 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?

James 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.

Frank 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 experiences?

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 own rewards.

Frank J. Avella: What do you love most about New York City?

James 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.

Frank J. Avella: Who are your heroes?

James 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 in.

Frank J. Avella: If you could work with anyone, living or dead, whom would you choose and why?

James 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.

Frank J. Avella: What projects are you currently excited to be involved in?

James 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







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