Arts & Entertainment

Making Your Way and Leading With Passion

James Cameron

Lesson time 18:30 min

James discusses his “creativity law of thermodynamics,” leadership lessons that he’s learned as a director over the years, and how to live life as an artist, preparing as much as possible to see the magic.

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Topics include: The Creativity Law of Thermodynamics • Inhabit the Technological and Humanistic Dualism • Speak the Language of VFX • Fortune Favors the Prepared Mind • Lead With Humanity • Lead With Inspiration • Compromise to Bring It Into Focus • Prepare, Battle Entropy, and See the Magic


[MUSIC PLAYING] - I can't emphasize enough the importance of curiosity. I think curiosity is how you're going to find your stories. Curiosity is how you interact with the world and observe how people are. Before you can make a film, you have to have observed life, you have to have lived some life. And you have to have to have been in relationships, and you have to have noted things about people and found people just endlessly fascinating. Before you can radiate, you need to absorb. You know, it's the law of thermodynamics. It's the creativity law of thermodynamics. So, you know, you have to get good people. So all right, so you want to understand the basic technologies of computer animation. How does it work? What are the steps involved? It doesn't just spring full blown. You're going to start with ideas. You're going to start with design. Sometimes it's character design, sometimes it's creature design. Sometimes you'll go through performance capture. Maybe someone is playing a creature or a character. You need to know how to integrate these things with live action elements if you choose to go down that path of doing highly effects oriented filmmaking. It's really-- I don't want to say it's a separate art form, because there's a lot of-- it's a gradient. You could be making the most humanistic simple drama, but in order to create that scene in 1954 that you want to do, suddenly you're in the effects world. So how are you going to learn about that stuff? Well, to start a lot of the tools are readily available. You can work relatively cheaply in some of the newer visual effects apps, so get some nerdy friends to come in and show you how to do that, or just sit and watch over their shoulder while they do something and learn the language. [MUSIC PLAYING] Personally, I think it's really important to understand all the jobs on the set and all the jobs associated with making a film. So as one is coming up and trying to find your place in the ecosystem of filmmaking, I think it's a really good idea to try a bit of everything. Be the boom operator for one of your friend's films. Understand how cameras work. Learn to understand how lenses work. Don't, I think-- don't fall into the trap that a lot of filmmakers do early on when they come to it from, let's say, writing, or they come to it from acting. You know-- because there tends to be this sense of dividing the process of filmmaking into the humanistic, empathetic, sort of internal-- you know, actor and writing kind of side of it. And then there's all that technical stuff that people do. I think it's important to remember that first of all, it's a fusion of both of those sides. And you have to inhabit that dualism where you can speak to the actors, you can talk to the writers, you understand the inner landscape of all the characters. And at the same time, you can ask for a certain lens and know what it'll do. You can talk to the DP about a backlight, you know, a ...

About the Instructor

From The Terminator and Titanic to Avatar, James Cameron has directed some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters. Now, for the first time in his 40-year career, he opens up about his process. Through behind-the-scenes breakdowns, James shares his approach to developing ideas, storylines, and characters; harnessing technology; and worldbuilding on any budget. Explore the innovation and imagination behind epic moviemaking.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

James Cameron

Academy Award–winning director James Cameron teaches you the tricks of the trade and shares his approach to epic moviemaking on any budget.

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