Acclaimed filmmaker James Cameron is apparently very aware of the reputation he has now that he is offering a MasterClass. IndieWire and /Film have pulled out a few choice quotes and reflections from his course that offer insight into how the director perceives himself. These support age-old accounts from actors like Ed Harris, who had apparently been so upset by how Cameron treated him during the filming of “The Abyss” that he wasn’t going to help sell the movie.
Film attributes to Cameron that “if he could go back and do one thing differently in his career, it would be to improve the nature of the working relationships he had with his cast and crew members. ‘I could’ve listened more,’ he says. ‘I could’ve been less autocratic. I could’ve not made the movie more important than the human interaction of the crew.’” He also describes himself as a “tinpot dictator” and has been known to insist on including lavish scenes even if they don’t serve as a specific story purpose, as in the case of the Mountain Banshee aerial sequence in Avatar, as described by IndieWire.
In the MasterClass, Cameron explains that “there are a lot of rules and advisories about why you put things in movies, and that they should all serve a purpose. Except, they don’t. Sometimes it should just be something you want to see as a filmmaker…and sometimes the only way to see it is to show it.” He also reminisces about how he wanted to fire the entire writers’ room on Avatar 2 because they were too focused on new ideas rather on strictly following his guided approach of first analyzing what worked and what didn’t in the first film.
Understanding his shortcomings are also rooted in an aspiration to something better. He notes that “I aspire, even today, to try to be my inner Ron Howard,” referring to the way in which director Howard goes to great lengths to complement people on set, something that left Cameron “dumbfounded” when he first saw it.
In addition to his MasterClass, Cameron fans can also anticipate the release of his first film in more than a decade. The long-in-the-works sequel to Avatar is slated for December 16th, 2022, with three more films in the series planned after that. He recently produced Secrets of the Whales for Disney Plus. He is best known for big-budget sci-fi epics like Avatar, Aliens, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and, of course, the more historically-oriented Oscar Best Picture winner Titanic.