Twice named an “international rising star” by BAFTA LA, James McNamara is an LA-based screenwriter and Lecturer in Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

McNamara specializes in literary adaptations for television, focusing on elevated historical procedurals. He is currently creating Detective Cooper, an international television drama series for Goalpost Pictures, Quizzical Pictures, and M-Net based on Malla Nunn’s award-winning novels. He is also co-creating an international television drama series for Sony Pictures / Playmaker. Other recent television work includes writers’ rooms for the Academy Award-winning See Saw Films, Matchbox Pictures / NBC Universal, Foxtel, ABC, and Endemol Shine. Additionally, McNamara has consulted on feature films for Porchlight Films, Icon Film Distribution, and Fox Searchlight Pictures.

A writer/professor, McNamara’s teaching and research fall at the intersection of Shakespeare studies, adaptation studies, and television studies, with a particular interest in screen adaptations of Shakespeare and other early modern drama. At UCSB he teaches upper-level film classes in advanced film analysis, adapting Shakespeare, adaptation studies, and genre studies, and is an Affiliate Faculty member of the Early Modern Center.

His public-facing criticism has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Times Literary Supplement, and Australian Book Review, where he is a past member of the editorial advisory board. In 2018, he was guest editor of ABR’s film and television special issue, and he received the Ian Potter Foundation Fellowship, one of Australia’s major awards for cultural criticism, for his work on early 21st-century US cable television. In Play All, Clive James described McNamara’s writing on American television as having “made a global contribution to cultural analysis”.

McNamara received his D.Phil in early modern English literature from Oxford, where his research was funded by a Clarendon Scholarship, and graduated in screenwriting from AFTRS, Australia’s national film school. He trained with the Bell Shakespeare Company and NIDA Studio in Sydney and the Second City and Upright Citizens Brigade in Los Angeles. Prior to moving into the film industry, McNamara was a trial lawyer at an international law firm.

He is represented by Kathryn Fleming at TFA in Sydney.