James Scott was raised in England by two artists, his father, the painter William Scott, and his mother, the sculptor Mary Scott. With a background in the visual arts, James found a place at the Slade School of Fine Art in London where he studied painting and theater design in the early 1960s. While a student, his interest in filmmaking and photography led him to direct his first and much applauded movie, The Rocking Horse (1962). The success of this film led to an opportunity to work with Tony Richardson, directing his first feature film at the age of twenty-one.
James moved from writing, directing and producing independent, political and artist films to winning the Academy Award for his film A Shocking Accident (1983), a romantic comedy based on the short story by Graham Greene. In 1988 this led to another cinematic Graham Greene adaptation, Strike it Rich for Harvey Weinstein. After this production he chose to abandon a life in film to return to his former interest in painting and drawing and relocated to Los Angeles. At this time, his paintings found inspiration in the culture of Hollywood based on his cinematic background.Following the passing of his influential father, James relocated to California.
James currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife Yolanda and his daughter Paloma where he continues an exploration of narrative and abstract painting. His work exhibits in England, Los Angeles and New York. He is currently working on a new film, Vanishing Point, and is also writing a historical novel set in the Cold War entitled Freedom.