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James Cameron Did A Reddit AMA Today! Lots Of Great Stuff!

Nordling here.

Reddit, through their AMAs, has become the go-to site for many filmmakers to communicate with their fans.  Often the result is a fascinating look into the creative process, or an examination of how that filmmaker perceives his legacy.  This open communication, I think, is beneficial to both artist and audience - the artist actually gets some insight about how their art interacts with the public, and gives them a bit of perspective.  And the fans get to understand more about their cinematic heroes, more about the process of filmmaking, and even get some news on upcoming projects.

Today, James Cameron did a Reddit AMA, and it's just as intriguing and engaging as you would expect from the man who gave us two TERMINATOR films, ALIENS, THE ABYSS, TITANIC, and his magnum opus, the AVATAR series.  You can read the full Reddit AMA here, but here are some highlights.  There wasn't a whole lot of new information on what we can expect in the AVATAR sequels (according to Cameron, he's still writing them):


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.

Currently the project is on hold until I finish the currently planned Avatar sequels, which will be a number of years.

His most memorable moment of shooting TITANIC:

I think that there was a moment of magic-- pure magic--, of coming together with the lens, when we shot the kiss at the bow of the ship during Titanic. The way the sun set, we were all inspired to run to get the shot and we had seconds to do it. There was no rehearsal, we didn't have time, but the actors did beautifully. We did two takes, one that was out of focus and one that was half out of focus, and the one that was used was the one that was half out of focus. And it was beautiful.

Guilty pleasure movie:

 Oh, probably Resident Evil, the first one.

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


His personal favorite film he's made:

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.

Na'vi, Alien Queen, or Terminator - who wins?:

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 narrative filmmaking and the Oculus Rift:
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 climate change:
...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.
What humanity should expect in its first alien contact:
I believe that human history and the history of evolution on this planet indicates that our first contact with alien species might not be as benign as Steven (Spielberg) thinks. The history on our planet is whenever a superior technology society encounters a society with lesser technology, the superior technology supplants the lesser society. There has never been an exception. So if the aliens come to us, it probably won't go well for us. A thousand years from now, if we're the ones going to where the aliens are (like the story told in Avatar) it won't go so well for the aliens.
The film that most influenced him:
Well, I can point directly to the film that had the biggest early influence on me, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Even though it's not necessarily my favorite film right now, it has a very special place for me developmentally, because when I saw it, I went from someone who enjoyed watching movies to wanting to make movies myself. So I started to experiment with creating that imagery.
Finally, his trip down to the bottom of the Marianas Tranch, the location of THE ABYSS (which I'm still dying to get on Blu-Ray):
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.
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.
So we will actually get to see the bottom of the deepest parts of the ocean in 3D!  That should be amazing on its own.
As always, we here at Ain't It Cool look forward to whatever vision (or nightmare) that James Cameron dreams up.  With his social activism and his health remaining good, I think Cameron has used his substantial abilities to make the world better through his art.  It was a pretty terrific look at the mind of one of our most important filmmakers.  The full Reddit AMA is here.
Nordling, out.
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