James Cameron has never been someone to lack confidence. You could argue that his confidence as a filmmaker is warranted considering his filmography is legendary, including iconic sci-fi action films and two of the biggest films of all time. So, while it may seem a bit…strange to hear his fascinating process for breaking the stories of the upcoming “Avatar” sequels, you can’t really doubt the filmmaker just yet. Cameron has yet to fail in a massive way, right?
In a recent episode of the Marianne Williamson Podcast (seen below), James Cameron talked about the process that he went through to craft the stories for the upcoming “Avatar” sequels. And while you might just assume Cameron locked himself in a room and pounded out scripts for the sequels based on ideas he already had in his head, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the process was much more detailed and precise. You know how people joke about how Marvel Studios films have a formula? Well, you could make a better case that James Cameron hired a bunch of people to crack the code for “Avatar.”
“When I sat down to write the sequels, I knew there were going to be three at the time, and eventually it turned into four, I put together a group of writers and said, ‘I don’t want to hear anybody’s new ideas or anyone’s pitches until we have spent some time figuring out what worked on the first film, what connected, and why it worked,” explained Cameron. “They kept wanting to talk about the new stories. I said, ‘We aren’t doing that yet.’ Eventually, I had to threaten to fire them all because they were doing what writers do, which is to try and create new stories. I said, ‘We need to understand what the connection was and protect it, protect that ember and that flame.’”
The analysis of the first film went incredibly deep. Cameron and his team took the time to analyze multiple levels of the film to figure out what worked and what needed to continue on in the sequels. On the first level, they looked at the plot. The second level provided analysis of “the spiritualism and the themes of capitalism, imperialism, colonialism, human rights abuses, and nature deficit disorder.” Then the third, “tertiary level,” went even deeper into a “dream-like” realm.
“It didn’t have any ‘-isms’ to it; it was a dream-like sense of a yearning to be there, to be in that space, to be in a place that is safe and where you wanted to be,” he explained. “Whether that was flying, that sense of freedom and exhilaration, or whether it’s in the forest where you can smell the earth. It was a sensory thing that communicated on such a deep level. That was the spirituality of the first film.”
Even after all of this deep thinking and brainstorming, even figuring out the stories wasn’t simple.
Cameron said, “We created and rejected many storylines for the second and third film because they didn’t take us to that transportive, dreaming-with-your-eyes-wide-open feeling.”
Of course, as we already know, eventually, Cameron and his crew figured out the stories for the sequels, and the filmmaker is well on his way to completing work on them. The next “Avatar” film is set to arrive in theaters on December 16, 2022. You can watch the full interview below: