Posted on Saturday, April 12th, 2014 by Germain Lussier
As popular as his movies are, James Cameron himself is slightly mysterious. Sure, he’ll get out to promote his work, or use his celebrity status to speak about important issues. Those occasions just don’t provide a great chance to meet the man himself.
Which is why when James Cameron took to Reddit to do an Ask Me Anything session, it was so incredibly fascinating. He talked about his family life, songs he sings in the shower, and his preference between dogs and cats. Below, however, you won’t find any of that. Below we’ve complied the best of Cameron’s film-related answers. There’s some really great stuff.
Cameron offers an update on the status of the Avatar sequels and Battle Angel, discusses whether or not Arnold Schwarzenegger will appear, comments on the possibility of True Lies 2, offers his thoughts on Prometheus, Titanic criticisms, Oculus Rift, Avatar Land, why all movies should be in 3D, if he’s excited for the new Terminator films, and explains why he loves Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil. One Redditor even got him to change a line of dialogue in an Avatar sequel. Read all about the James Cameron AMA below.
Avatar sequel updates, will Schwarzenegger be in the films, and does he feel pressure to deliver:
As of right now, [Arnold] and I have not discussed it, and I don’t see a role as the scripts are coming together that would be appropriate for him, so I would say probably not.
The second, third and fourth films all go into production simultaneously. They’re essentially all in preproduction now, because we are designing creatures, settings, and characters that span all three films. And we should be finished with all three scripts within the next, I would say, six weeks.
There’s always pressure, whether it’s a new film or whether it’s a sequel, to entertain and amaze an audience. I’ve felt that pressure my entire career, so there’s nothing new there. The biggest pressure I feel right now is cutting out things I love to get the film down to a length that is affordable. There hasn’t been a problem finding new and wonderful things to include in the movie.
Will he ever make a True Lies 2:
We abandoned True Lies 2 after 9/11, because we didn’t think a comedy about fundamentalist terrorists was so funny anymore. And then we never picked it up again.
Why did he choose to do more Avatar movies instead of Battle Angel:
My intention when I made Avatar was to do Battle Angel next. However, the positive feedback for Avatar and the support of the message of Avatar, encouraged me to do more of those films.
For me, the success was a factor because I was encouraged by the fact that an environmental film, or a film about nature, could be successful. It’s certainly not just about money. I’m considering success to mean the measure of the ability of the film to communicate. Every director wants their film to communicate. The biggest factor, however, is the drive to continue developing the world– more characters, more creatures with unfettered creativity.
Thoughts on the last Terminator movies and the upcoming reboot:
Well, I have to be objective, or as objective as possible about that. I’m not big fans of the films, I think that the big ideas of the first movies – I didn’t make the second film until I had an idea as big as the first film, and it had to do with the moral complexity of the story, and asking the audience by the end of the film to cry for a Terminator. I don’t think that the 3rd or 4th film lived up to that potential. Sarah Connor Chronicles I never really watched much of it, so I never gave it a chance I get to get hooked, like you have to with a TV series. I’m hopeful that the new films, which are being made right now as a reboot, but still involving Arnold, will be good. From what I’ve seen from afar, it looks like they will be quite good.
Did he ever try to do another Alien movie:
We never talked about Alien 3. I don’t remember the timing exactly, but I might have been making the Abyss at that time, also for Fox. What came up was the idea of doing Alien 5, and at one point I pitched that I would write it and produce it, and Ridley would direct it, and we had lunch talking about this, and we were in violent agreement, then nothing happened. What happened was Fox went ahead with Aliens Vs Predator, and I said “I really don’t recommend that, you’ll ruin the franchise, it’s like Universal doing Dracula versus the Werewolf,” and then I lost interest in doing an Alien film. But Prometheus is seen as the A-level alien, as opposed to rather, the derivative. I don’t think I have anything to offer on the Prometheus sequels, that’s Ridley’s, I think I’ll stick to the Avatar universe.
Comments on Avatar Land:
Well, Disney are doing a first-rate job designing it. It’s going to be completely spectacular. It will be like being on Pandora. You will see real floating mountains. It’s going to be a very magical experience just to be there and walk around. And the two rides will be absolute state of the art. But I don’t how much they want to say about what those rides specifically will be, so I probably shouldn’t say anymore than that. But from what I’ve seen so far, it will be amazing. I will be sad it’s in Florida, because I won’t be able to go a lot to it.
Favorite Guilty Pleasure Movie:
Oh, probably Resident Evil, the first one. I just like that film! You don’t have to defend a guilty pleasure.
Favorite movie of this year:
This year, 2014, I haven’t seen that much that inspired me yet. My favorite film of last year, hands down, was Gravity, and I was hoping it would win best picture, but certainly happy that my friend Alfonso Cuaron won best director. I did think that this new Captain America was an interesting film for its genre, in that it tackled this idea of digital surveillance and the kind of dark side of our hyperconnected society.
Are there projects he’d like to do but the tech doesn’t exist yet:
I’d like to see sensor technology, image capture sensor technology, increase so that we could do some fun things like higher resolution, larger format, adding more XY camera movement on after the image has been taken, as part of the editorial process. There are some things I’d like to do that technology doesn’t allow me to do right now but i think the technology will happen in a few years.
Where does would he like the film industry to go? 48 fps, 3D, IMAX, etc:
48 fps to me is not a format, it’s a tool, like music it’s good to use sparingly and in the right spot. I believe all movies should be made in 3D, forever, but the projection needs to be better, and brighter. I want people to see in the movie theaters what I am seeing in my perfectly calibrated screening room, and people aren’t seeing that. Larger formats. I’d love to see screens get bigger. In terms of storytelling, I’d like to see Hollywood embrace the caliber of writing in feature films that we’re currently seeing in the series on television – more emphasis on character, and less on explosions and pyrotechnics. And I’m talking the big tentpole movies, I think they’re obnoxiously loud and fast….Not that I don’t like loud fast scenes, I just don’t like whole movies that are that way!
Is virtual reality or Oculus Rift the next innovation in filmmaking:
I personally would be very interested to find a way to incorporate VR and a narrative filmmaking experience. So a narrative directed experience that has individuated pathways where you have choices that you make in real-time, I think that would be a lot of fun. I think it would be very technically daunting and expensive, to do it as the same quality level as a typical feature, but it would be fun to experiment with. It sounds like a lot of fun. I don’t think it would take over the feature film market though. I’m very familiar with VR, but I haven’t seen the specific Oculus Rift device. I’m interested in it, I’m meant to see it sometime in the next month or so, but I’ve been familiar with VR since its inception. In fact, virtual reality is a way of describing the way we work on Avatar, we work in a virtual workspace all day long. We use a “virtual camera” which is how I create all the shots that are CG in the film, a window into a virtual reality that completely surrounds me.
On the next page, Cameron discusses Titanic, Aliens, Prometheus, Leonardo DiCaprio and the all important question, Star Wars or Harry Potter.