James Cameron RedditAMA Recap

James Cameron

Hi Reddit! Jim Cameron here to answer your questions. I am a director, writer, and producer responsible for films such as Avatar, Titanic, Terminators 1 and 2, and Aliens. In addition, I am a deep-sea explorer and dedicated environmentalist. Most recently, I executive produced Years of Living Dangerously, which premieres this Sunday, April 13, at 10 p.m. ET on Showtime. Victoria from reddit will be assisting me. Feel free to ask me about the show, climate change, or anything else.

Proof here and here

imdb

wiki

Q

What is your response when an actor like Sir Ian McKellen says, “this is not why I became an actor” in reaction to acting in front of a green screen without any other actors?

A

Well, different actors have a different tolerance for green screen work. usually theater trained actors have the confidence to work alone, or work in the absence of props and scenery and so on, because they are used to sort of black box theater and/or one person shows, and they know that part of an actor’s power and the magic is their ability to create when nothing’s there. Other actors simply just don’t like it. So it’s always good, if you’re making a green screen heavy film, to talk to the actors before you cast them about that issue. Because you don’t want to have to be buying someone’s talent, certainly actors are well-paid, but you also want them to want to be doing that.

Q

What is your favorite guilty pleasure movie to watch.

A

Oh, probably Resident Evil, the first one.

I just like that film! You don’t have to defend a guilty pleasure.

Q

Did you laugh at South Park’s depiction of you? I’ve always wanted to know what the celebrities involved in that show think of it.

A

It’s funny. It’s like they were actually on the expedition, except I didn’t actually make the crew sing a song about me.

Q

What was the biggest challenge you faced when you traveled down the Mariana Trench? Since when were you planning to do it and why?

A

Well, there were a number of challenges leading up to the dive in terms of creating a new submersible from scratch that involved many new technologies, and anybody who has ever built a complex new technological system from scratch knows what I’m talking about. But the biggest challenge on the day of the dive itself was the sea state, we had a 2 and a half meter sea, so talking close to 8-10 foot waves. That was bigger than we were supposed to launch in. And during the launch process, one of our key safety systems got broken on the submersible. And I elected to dive anyway. Then it turned out not to be necessary, it was a backup system, and the dive went fairly well after that.

Your ears don’t pop, because the submersible is designed to withstand the pressure. What you feel is the cold, and the confinement. Now your MIND is very aware of the pressure, because if the submersible were to fail, you’d cease to exist in a microsecond. I call it “being chummed into a meat cloud.” Needless to say, that didn’t happen, unless we’re in one of those parallel universes we were talking about before.

On that dive, we discovered a number of new species, they were very small, including a new sea cucumber, it was very small, I referred to one of them as a “little sea pig” because they look like little pink piglets. They’re about as big as your thumb, or maybe smaller. Technically, they’re called Holothurian. And we also discovered a large number of new bacterial species that live in the bottom sediment down there. But the impression is of a very desolate landscape, like the moon. You have to look very closely to find life down there.

Q

Is there any chance that well be seeing pictures or footage from this trip? I’ve been extremely curious.

A

Yes. We shot the whole expedition and I shot the the dives in the 3D. There’s a 3D film called Deepsea Challenge that is from National Geographic that will be released theatrically.

Q

How did it feel when Neil DeGrasse Tyson pointed out that your sky in Titanic was wrong?

A

I wasn’t particularly embarrassed because I think that’s an unbelievably specific nitpick and if that caused him to not enjoy the film, he may need to reevaluate his priorities. That said, because I’m such a perfectionist, I challenged him to provide me with the correct star fields and incorporated them into the future rereleases of the film. So, if you watch the film now, the stars are correct.

Q

What do you like to do to help get your creative juices flowing?

A

Well, I’ll work out or do yoga. Sometimes I’ll read or watch something that is in the same area code to the project I’m working on. If I’m in the midst of a project, I’ll go back and read what I wrote the day before. I also have an extensive file of images- photographs and art- that I like to consult.

Q

Did you enjoy your time on Entourage? Any thoughts of making an actual Aquaman movie??

A

Haha! Entourage, for me, consisted of half a day’s work, during which they filmed segments for five different episodes. So it looked like I was on that show a lot more than I was. It might have been a full day’s work, come to think of it.

Q

A few years ago, I directed a Nintendo DS game based heavily off your ALIENS film, and one of the features that we focused on (which really resonated with fans) was letting you play as 20 different marines, carefully building up each of their personalities (rewriting the full game script for each), then permanently killing them if you ran out of health. I felt that at its heart, your 1986 film was essentially more of a ‘slasher film’ than a sci-fi or action one: you spent the first half creating characters we the audience love, then the second half killing them off one-by-one.

My question is: Did you consciously have this sort of ‘slasher film’ mindset as you made the film?

A

I think I was following in the footsteps of the first film ALIEN, which was the classic “10 little indians” model where you start out with X number of beloved characters, and have one that prevails. In ALIENS, three characters prevail at the end. So I would say ALIENS is more about family bonds, even though it’s a pseudo-family in the film, and cooperation against an enemy.

So it doesn’t exactly follow the slasher model.

Q

Mr. Cameron, what do you like about filmmaking the most?

A

I personally love the close work with the actors when we’re trying to break a scene, when we’re trying to figure out the heart of a scene. I may have written it a year earlier, but the real creative work is that day, when you’re going to shoot that scene. I love that we find that magic that was not obvious on the page.

Q

What is the best advice ever given to you?

A

As a film director, the best advice I ever got was from Roger Corman. He said “film directing is hard work, sit down as much as possible.”

The funny thing is, I never followed it! I always come in on first day of production, and there’s a producer chair with my name on it, and I say “take it away! It won’t be used.”a

And then about 3/4 of the way through a long shoot, I relent, I start following Roger’s advice towards the end of a production.

Q

Do you still have nightmares about terminators?

A

No, I’ve never had nightmares about Terminators after I made the film. I had nightmares that inspired the film. But I always feel that making the film is the catharsis that stops the nightmares, if you will.For example, I used to always have nightmares about giant waves, tsunamis essentially. And when I made the Abyss, which had a giant wave scene in it, those stopped.

Filmmaking is therapy.

Q

Do you still talk to dicaprio? It seems to me that you catapulted his career to where it is today

A

I think Leonardo, when I cast him in Titanic, he was well on his way. I think I helped him skip a rung or two on the ladder maybe, but he certainly would have gotten there on his own because he’s one of the most talented actors of his generation. Do I still talk to him? Yes, occasionally. We’re friendly but we’re not close friends.

Q

When will you make a True Lies 2??

A

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.

Q

What is your favorite song to sing in the shower?

A

Depends on my mood. If I’m feeling aggressive, it’s Ride of the Valkyries, though it might just as easily be a Bruce Springsteen song.

Q

what do you feel is going to be the next innovation in film? Do you have any thoughts on the Oculus Rift and it’s use in film making? Thanks!

A

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.

Q

Hey Jim, I like to think that I am one of your biggest fans. I consider Aliens and Terminator 2 to be the best sequels of all time.I’m really excited to see Years of Living Dangerously, I think the format will get a lot of people to learn more about climate change that might not have otherwise.

My questions are:

  • What is the best thing we can do to help combat climate change?
  • Which of your movies is your own personal favorite?

A

Dorian, this may surprise you, because it surprised me when I found out, but the single biggest thing that an individual can do to combat climate change is to stop eating animals. Because of the huge, huge carbon footprint of animal agriculture. I was shocked to find out that animal agriculture directly or indirectly accounts for 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions, compared to all transportation – every ship, car, truck, plane on the planet only accounts for 13%. Less than animal agriculture. So most people think that buying a Prius is the answer, and it’s certainly not wrong, but it’s not the biggest agent of climate change.

Well, I have 5 kids and I would never answer the question if someone asked me which one was my favorite. The same with my movies. Each film is a journey, you learn so much from it, and it’s a reflection of a different period in your life, a different snapshot of who you were at this time. The one I’m working on is always my favorite. Right now it’s Avatar 2, Avatar 3, and Avatar 4.

Q

What has been your favorite film this year?

A

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.

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