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While in Beijing hyping the release of Titanic 3D while trying to secure greater Chinese distribution of his films, James Cameron spoke to The New York Times about his plans for the future. He explained his intent to split his creative talents between working within the Avatar universe and creating documentaries.
“I’ve divided my time over the last 16 years over deep ocean exploration and filmmaking. I’ve made two movies in 16 years, and I’ve done eight expeditions. Last year I basically completely disbanded my production company’s development arm. So I’m not interested in developing anything. I’m in the Avatar business. Period. That’s it. I’m making Avatar 2, Avatar 3, maybe Avatar 4, and I’m not going to produce other people’s movies for them. I’m not interested in taking scripts. And that all sounds I suppose a little bit restricted, but the point is I think within the Avatar landscape I can say everything I need to say that I think needs to be said, in terms of the state of the world and what I think we need to be doing about it. And doing it in an entertaining way. And anything I can’t say in that area, I want to say through documentaries, which I’m continuing. I’ve done five documentaries in the last 10 years, and I’ll hopefully do a lot more. In fact, I’m doing one right now, which is on this, the Deep Sea Challenge project that we just completed the first expedition. So that’ll be a film that’ll get made this year and come out first quarter of next year.”
The writer/director went on to elaborate on the status of the Avatar sequels. “We’ve spent the last year and a half on software development and pipeline development,” Cameron said. “The virtual production methodology was extremely prototypical on the first film. As then, no one had ever done it before and we didn’t even know for two and half years into it and $100 million into it if it was going to work. So we just wanted to make our lives a whole lot easier so that we can spend a little more of our brainpower on creativity. It was a very, very uphill battle on the first film. So we’ve been mostly working on the tool set, the production pipeline, setting up the new stages in Los Angeles, setting up the new visual effects pipeline in New Zealand, that sort of thing. And, by the way, writing. We haven’t gotten to the design stage yet. That’ll be the next.”
While the conversation turned to more technical aspects of dealing with China and the possibility of co-producing the Avatar films there with an eye toward that huge viewing market, Cameron did talk earlier in the interview about some of the younger directors he finds most interesting and inspiring.
“I don’t find my inspiration in movies,” he said. “I find my inspiration in life – in the natural world, in daily life. There are filmmakers that come along that are quite iconoclastic. And that I’m in awe of, frankly. Zack Snyder’s 300. I think that was a really revolutionary film, because it was a completely deconstructive form of filmmaking in a way that nobody had done before, other than maybe Robert Rodriguez. That’s inspirational to me. Zhang Yimou’s films are inspirational to me. I have to see them multiple times to really see how he’s doing it and what exactly he’s doing that seems to work so well. So as a fan of film, there are certain films that come along that are just stunning to me, and I’ll study them.”