Get to know me

James Austen is a New York born filmmaker currently residing in Los Angeles, specializing in Directing, Cinematography, Editing, and Coloring. He received his MFA in Cinema Directing from DePaul University and holds a BA in Cinema & Media Studies from The University of Chicago.

Committed to furthering storytelling as a tool of empowerment, he has taught in and led filmmaking workshops in Chicago, Jordan, Palestine, and Los Angeles. His most recent short, The Trafficker, was an official selection of the Beloit International and Orlando International Film Festivals, among several others.

As an artist, James explores his unique personal experiences and perspectives as a mixed-race individual through characters, stories, and settings that are set at the periphery of being–neither here nor there–trying to find a place in “placeless-ness.”

What's cooking

Lay this Body Down

Three young girls and their grandmother are forced to reckon with the evil bloodlust of a skinwalking Boo-Hag in rural Georgia of the 1970s.

Co-written by the mother-son duo of Stephanie Timm-Austen and James Austen, this coming-of-age horror, set in the 70s, is inspired by–and is based on–the real events surrounding a time in which Stephanie and her sisters were sent from Brooklyn, NY to live with their grandparents in rural Georgia following the psychiatric hospitalization of their mother. The film weaves our true family history with little known Southern African-American folklore & spirituality to tell the story of a little girl who finds the strength to face horrors both at home and in the world by learning to love herself and embrace the generational strength Black mothers seek to pass down to their children.

Reviewers have called Lay this Body Down "completely captivating," and "a sharp, atmospheric, and genuinely horrifying tale that['s]... Well worth the read..."


  • Semifinalist - Stage32's 10th Annual Search for New Blood Screenwriting Contest