Whilst several filmmakers can be said to have pushed the boundaries of cinema, including Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, Christopher Nolan and Steven Spielberg, few have innovated more times than the American filmmaker James Cameron. Creating some of the most stunning movies of all time, Cameron might be the film industry’s most bankable filmmaker, responsible for creating two of the top three highest-grossing films of all time, 2009s Avatar and 1997s Titanic.
Well-known and beloved for his appreciation for the grand spectacle of cinema, Cameron has made a handful of cult and popular favourites, including, Aliens, True Lies and The Terminator franchise. More recently, it has been his Avatar series that has caught the attention of audiences, with the long-awaited sequel to the original 3D phenomenon due to be released later in 2022.
Where the original movie thrived on the contemporary innovation of 3D, in the sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, quite ingeniously, Cameron is once again planning to seduce his audience with more tech, lining up a brand new form of 3D that doesn’t involve glasses. Lightstorm Entertainment, Cameron’s production company, has collaborated with Christie Digital to produce a ‘pure laser’ technology, a system that involves 60,000 lumens, producing bright visuals with a high frame rate, resulting in pure cinematic innovation.
So, what drives the filmmaker to keep innovating time and time again? Speaking in an interview with The Talks, Cameron breaks down why he loves to dazzle audiences, even mentioning some movies that inspired him in the process.
“I think it comes from my desire as a kid to do something artistic that would amaze people, you know?” Cameron told the publication, revealing the films that influenced him in his youth, “I would go to movies that would amaze me, whether that was a Ray Harryhausen film or Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. I wanted to do nothing less than that”.
Making reference to the revolutionary special effects Kubrick utilised for the sci-fi sequences of his 1968 epic and the work of stop-motion master Harryhausen, Cameron adds, “Those are the projects that I love: figuring out what might just be possible but hasn’t been done yet. I have always wanted to create new things, new hardware”.
The son of an electrical engineer and an artist, as a young man Cameron was fascinated by science, enrolling in Fullerton College in 1973 to study physics before switching to English and dropping out in 1974. Reading what he could about film technology at the school library whilst working as a janitor, it was upon the release of Star Wars in 1977 that the filmmaker would dump his day job and seek a life in Hollywood.
As Cameron further explains in the interview, “I was always fascinated by technology, robotics, optics, all of those sorts of things, so you know, in high school I wasn’t on the football team but I became the president of the science club — even though the science club really only consisted of me, a girl from Czechoslovakia who didn’t speak English, and some lab rats”.