Originally from the United States, Emily James studied history and philosophy of science at Cambridge University and then documentary directing at the National Film and Television School in the UK, where she continues to live. In her films, Emily combines her interests in history, science, politics and film language with a wry sense of humor and just a little more than a pinch of irony.
When only half way through her film school course, Emily won the Kodak International ‘Best Student Film World Wide 2000’ for her film Wag the Dogma, and sold the film for multiple broadcasts on Channel 4 and E4. A Brief History of Cuba, in d minor was her graduation project, the bold comical style of which landed her her first TV commission for Channel 4’s ALT TV strand. The Luckiest Nut in the World was broadcast for the first time in 2002, and greeted by rave reviews. The Guardian wrote: “Emily James is a genius, and will in time be revered as a television innovator, dead clever and a woman who really knows her nuts.”
The Luckiest Nut went on to be invited to numerous film festivals, such as the One World Human Rights Festival in Prague, and to win Best Documentary Short at the Full Frame Documentary Festival in 2003. In 2004 Emily made a four part series for Channel 4 called Don’t Worry , which the Observer described as “A brilliant satire of the trend towards consumer affairs as entertainment.” That year Emily was singled out by Broadcast as one of the “Hottest Talents in Town”.
In 2005 and 2006 Emily executive produced a number of short and long form documentaries for Channel 4 with subject matter ranging from Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to the plight of migrant workers. In 2007 Emily returned to her native country to make Dallas Campbell’s Guide to the Impossible, for Discovery US and to work with Morgan Spurlock on development of a satirical puppet show called GWANO – “The Global World Action News Organisation: when you hear the news, you know it’s GWANO!”
In 2009 Emily moved into the world of feature documentary, serving as Executive Producer on The Age of Stupid. Her feature directing debut, Just Do It – a tale of modern day outlaws screened in over 45 independent cinemas across the UK in Summer 2011, alongside a far-reaching community screenings programme. The film is now available on DVD, online and as a Creative Commons release.
Shooting Outlaws without Hurting Anyone: Emily James at TEDxEaling