James Schamus made his start in Hollywood as a producer in 1990. After gaining modest success, he turned his attention to writing and has practiced both crafts ever since. Over the years he has been a part of such production companies as Christine Vachon, Todd Haynes and Barry Elsworth’s Apparatus and his own Good Machine, which produced films for some of independent cinema’s most famous names including Nicole Holofcener and Edward Burns. His production credits include such notable films as Brokeback Mountain, for which he received an Academy Award nomination, 2002’s Auto Focus, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) and Happiness. His writing efforts include the movies Tortilla Soup and 2003’s Hulk.
Schamus’ latest project, Lust, Caution, marks his eleventh collaboration with the internationally acclaimed director Ang Lee, having previously produced the majority of the director’s efforts. “In Lust, Caution, Ang dramatizes a transcendent idea advanced by [writer] Eileen Chang; a human being finds herself in a situation beyond her control, but takes ownership of it,” Schamus explains.
Lust, Caution has been making headlines lately for receiving an NC-17 rating from the MPAA, for what it calls “very graphic” sex scenes. In addition, the Chinese government also heavily censored the film when it was released there. While an NC-17 rating for a legitimate movie is almost unheard of today, Focus Features has decided to forgo any appeals on the rating and release it anyway. NC-17 means that no one under 18, regardless of who accompanies them, can see the film. The question becomes: Will that matter when the Oscar ballots are sent later this season? Lust, Caution was released in one U.S. theater on September 28 and earned a healthy $61,000 in its opening weekend.
Next up Schamus re-teams with his favorite auteur for 2008’s A Little Game, just another step in the pair’s attempt to conquer the moviemaking world.