James is a director and screenwriter from Hereford, England. He is a graduate of the UK’s National Film & Television School (Directing Fiction MA) and is known for writing and directing the short films Barry Glitter, The Car Washer and festival favourite Ferris & The Fancy Pigeon, which was shortlisted for Odeon’s ‘Best Short of the Year’ and won the Royal Television Society award for ‘Best Student Drama’ in 2017.
James’s debut feature film JELLYFISH premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in April 2018 and had its international premiere shortly after at Edinburgh International Film Festival, where it won the ‘Michael Powell Award’ for ‘Best Performance in a British Feature Film’. In September 2018 Jellyfish won the Grand Jury, Critic, Screenplay and inaugural Performance ‘Hitchcock’ awards at Dinard Film Festival. Since then the film has been screened at multiple film festivals around the world, winning numerous awards along the way, as well as earning a five-star review in the Financial Times and a glowing review from Mark Kermode, in which he called Liv Hill’s performance “fabulous”.
James likes skateboarding and riding his bike, currently lives in London and is in several TV and feature film projects.
PRAISE FOR JAMES’ WORK ON JELLYFISH
Financial Times – 5* review
“Jellyfish is funny, touching and vividly memorable – a film that constantly defies expectations”
The Sun – 4* review
“A masterclass of representation and believability”
Evening Standard – 4* review
“Jellyfish — moving, provocative, often hilarious — is quite a debut. Gardner and Hill. Remember those names”
The Scotsman – 4* review
“Gardner eschews easy triumphalism by remaining true to his protagonist’s situation and using the film’s Margate setting to weave in a deft critique of the gentrification process turning a blind-eye to people like her.”
The Upcoming – 4* review
“Making his directorial debut, co-writer James Gardner presents Sarah’s mundane Margate misery in almost documentary-style tones: it’s lifeless, unromantic, which allows the fierce and fragile shades of his protagonist and the rest of the cast to shine through. The film has some humorous and harrowing frames and Gardner manages to handle them with brutal honesty and a powerful respect.”
Flicking Myth – 4* review
“This isn’t a movie that follows the cartoonish and uplifting underdog story template, but one that effectively follows a woman using creativity to explore what her place in the world might be. With Hill’s natural, potent performance at the centre of that narrative, Gardner is able to locate the heart of these characters and twist the emotional knife in just the right way.”