Family & Companions
One of the major players of the American independent film scene in the early 1990s, James Schamus has gradually been moving toward the mainstream through a series of collaborations with Taiwanese director Ang Lee. The California native, who is on faculty at Columbia University, entered the films as a producer on Raul Ruiz's short "The Golden Boat" (1990). He became involved with Apparatus, a production company founded by indie filmmakers Christine Vachon, Todd Haynes and Barry Elsworth and served as executive producer of Haynes' acclaimed "Poison" (1991). He and Vachon have collaborated on several acclaimed films including Tom Kalin's "Swoon" (1992), a retelling of the Leopold-Loeb murders, Haynes' "Safe" (1995). about a woman with allergic reactions to her environment, and "Office Killer" (1997), photographer Cindy Sherman's feature directorial debut.
Around the same time he began his association with Apparatus. Schamus became involved with the creation of the Independent Television Service (ITVS), where he helped to develop and oversee several productions, most notably Haynes' "When Dottie Gets Spanked" (1993). Nearly simultaneously, he was working as a script reader at New Line where he made the acquaintance of Ted Hope. With Hope, Schamus founded Good Machine, a production company, in 1991, under whose auspices over twenty films have been produced. Schamus (often in tandem with Hope) went on to be involved in a variety of other productions, many of which have earned festival and other awards. Among them are Alexandre Rockwell's "In the Soup" (1992), Tom Noonan's "What Happened Was..." (1993), Edward Burns' "The Brothers McMullen" (1995) and "She's the One" (1996), Nicole Holofcener's "Walking and Talking" (1996) and Bart Freundlich's "The Myth of Fingerprints" (1997).
But it is for his associations with Ang Lee that Schamus has become best-known. He served as producer and was credited with additional scenes on Lee's "Pushing Hands" (1992), a well-made examination of the clash of cultures between a Chinese-American whose non-English speaking father comes to live with him. Their second teaming, with Schamus sharing screenplay credit, resulted in the Oscar-nominated foreign film "The Wedding Banquet" (1993), a comedy about a gay Taiwanese-American who tries to outsmart his parents by staging a bogus marriage ceremony. The following year, "Eat Drink Man Woman" also received an Academy Award nod for Best Foreign Film. With 1995's "Sense and Sensibility," Schamus and Lee hit pay dirt. With a screenplay by actress Emma Thompson (who also starred), the film earned rapturous reviews and seven Oscar nominations. Schamus furthered his own reputation as a screenwriter with his masterful adaptation of Rick Moody's novel of 70s angst and ennui, "The Ice Storm" (1997). Again Lee helmed with a steady hand and meticulous eye for detail. Schamus' script was awarded a prize at the Cannes Film Festival. As a follow-up, he adapted another novel, Daniel Woodrell's "Woe to Live On," a coming-of-age story set at the end of the Civil War. Produced under the title "Ride With the Devil" (1999), it featured a cast of rising young actors including Skeet Ulrich, Tobey Maguire and singer Jewel in her motion picture acting debut.
In 2000, Schamus and Ang Lee teamed on the critically- acclaimed "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," which mixed a pulp story filled with breathtaking martial arts with a sweeping, epic romance. Utilizing the iconic stature of Hong Kong stars Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh counterpointed with rising talents Zhang Ziyi and Chang Cheng, the film held appeal to both males and females. Schamus who contributed to the screenplay, produced and even penned the lyrics to the love theme, earned Oscar nominations in all three categories, although he had to be satisfied with the film taking home the Best Foreign Language statue as well as three technical awards.
Director (Feature Film)
Writer (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Film Production - Main (Feature Film)
Special Thanks (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Co-founded the Independent Television Service (ITVS), also served as coordinating producer for fiction
First producing credit, "The Golden Boat"; directed by Raul Ruiz
First collaboration with Todd Haynes, "Poison"; served as executive producer; film produced by Vachon
With Hope, founded the production company, Good Machine in January
Initial producing collaboration with Hal Hartley, "Ambition"
First collaboration with Ang Lee; "Pushing Hands"
Served as executive producer of Tom Kalin's "Swoon"
Co-produced Hartley's "Simple Men"
Produced and co-wrote Lee's "The Wedding Banquet"
Through ITVS, was coordinating producer of Todd Haynes' acclaimed short, "Dottie Gets Spanked"
Re-teamed with Lee for "Eat Drink Man Woman"; served as associate producer and co-writer
Executive produced Edward Burns' feature debut, "The Brothers McMullen"
Was an executive producer on Todd Haynes' acclaimed film, "Safe"
Was one of the co-producers of Ang Lee's Oscar-nominated adaptation of Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility"
Served as a producer of Burns' second film, "She's the One"
Co-produced "The Ice Storm" with Ted Hope and Ang Lee; also scripted
Contributed to the script for Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"; earned Best Screenplay and Best Song Oscar nominations
Produced "Buffalo Soldiers," starring Joaquin Phoenix and Ed Harris as US soldiers stationed in West Germany just before the fall of the Berlin wall
Produced and co-wrote the script for Ang Lee's feature adaptation of "Hulk"
Re-teamed with director Ang Lee to produce "Brokeback Mountain"; earned an Oscar nomination for Best Picture
Produced Lee's "Lust, Caution"
Re-teamed with Lee to produce "Taking Woodstock"