On Saturday, visionary director James Cameron appeared on Reddit in an AMA chat where he answered all kinds of questions from fans and gave his opinions on various topics. Along the way, he gave an update on the upcoming Avatar sequels, dished on non-Cameron Terminator projects, and spoke a bit about the direction he'd like to see Hollywood go in.
Here are a few highlight's from Cameron's AMA:
"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.
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."
On how the sequels came to be, and how they altered his original plans:
"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."
At one point, Cameron was asked what he thought of the multitude of Terminator projects that have taken place since he completed work on T2: Judgement Day. Along the way, he also gives a surprising appraisal of what to expect from the new rebooted trilogy coming up:
"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."
Cameron also got geeky and answered a question about who would win in a fight- A Na'vi, a T-800, or the Alien Queen?
"Is the T-800 armed or not armed?
An Armed T-800 with a plasma rifle will clean house, all it has to do is shoot the Alien Queen, and have it bleed on the Na'vi. I would think that all three of them unarmed. Queen beats Na'vi. Queen beats T-800, because the T-800 would tear the arm off a queen, which would dissolve the mantel and shut down the cyborg.
Now a Na'vi riding a leonopteryx, or a Na'vi riding a thanataur, that would be a different story.
On the future of Hollywood, he was asked- from an innovation standpoint- what he thinks the future should be. The question made sense, considering Cameron has been on the cutting edge of filmmaking technologies for quite some time. But his answer morphed into something much more fundamental, about the state of the "blockbuster" movie:
"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."
I was hoping someone would ask him about the Spider-Man movie he fought to make, and would've made, if Marvel hadn't been dealing with issues of rights and bankruptcy in the 90s. But no one did. I'll always wonder what a Spidey movie conceived, and sought after as a passion project by James Cameron would look like. Ah well.
Thanks for the taking, Mr. Cameron!