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If you like James Cameron's story, you might also like:
Robert Ballard,
Francis Ford Coppola,
Ron Howard,
Peter Jackson,
George Lucas and
Robert Zemeckis

James Cameron also appears in the video:
Media and Social Responsibility

Teachers can find prepared lesson plans featuring James Cameron in the Achievement Curriculum section:
Media & The Arts

Related Links:
Deap Sea Challenge
Cameron Online

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James Cameron
James Cameron
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James Cameron Interview (page: 2 / 8)

Master Filmmaker

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  James Cameron

Did you think of yourself as different from other kids? Were you a gifted child?

James Cameron: I certainly didn't think of myself as gifted. The standards for being gifted in my environment were if you were good in Little League or if you were good in football.

I was more like the -- kind of the misfit, the outsider. And of course, the misfits and the outsiders all collect together like this kind of pond scum around the sides. And that's where all the good ideas come from. I certainly never thought of myself as, you know, superior or gifted in any way. Just different. Definitely different. And happy. Satisfied to be different. Maybe not always happy to be different, but satisfied to be different.

How do you think that affected your childhood?

James Cameron Interview Photo
James Cameron: It becomes a defense mechanism, to be contemptuous of people who don't think outside of the box. I spent a ten year period being intellectually snobbish and saying, "You guys are just a bunch of jock idiots." And then I've spent the last 25 years trying to reintegrate myself into being a normal person. With limited success probably.

Do you think you were destined to be an achiever? Is it destiny? Is it chance?

James Cameron: I think it's, the old adage: "The harder I work, the luckier I get." I think chance is not a big factor in the long run. It can be a huge factor in the short run, being at the right place at the right time. But even with that chance, the critical factor is being able to recognize a true opportunity and seize it the moment it presents itself, and not wait and over think it, because it will pass.

There are many talented people who haven't fulfilled their dreams because they over thought it, or they were too cautious, and were unwilling to make the leap of faith. There are also winos sleeping rolled up in a carpet remnant in an alley some place who also made that leap of faith and either made it at the wrong time or never had the skill to back it up.

If you don't have the ability to make that leap of faith it's going to be harder for you to accomplish something great, because there are going to be moments, there are going to be little windows of opportunity that open for a split second and you either squirt through or you don't. But at the moment that you do that, you have to have prepared yourself. You have to have prepared yourself for that fight, because that's going to be the fight of your life. Whatever that opportunity is, when you grab it, it's going to be more energy than you can manage. It's going to be grabbing the tiger by the tail and if you have not prepared yourself mentally for it through study, through knowing and hypothesizing what it will be like when you're in that position, you won't be able to deal with it. And half of what you've concluded before the fact in your theoretical projection is going to be wrong but half of it will be right and that's the part you're going to prevail with.

[ Key to Success ] Courage

When did you first know what it was that you wanted to do with your life?

James Cameron Interview Photo
James Cameron: I didn't know for a long time. I was always fascinated by the sciences. When I was a kid I used to spend all my time collecting pond water and looking at it through my microscope and trying to identify the various protozoa, or I'd be looking through a telescope trying to find the Great Nebula in Orion. My brain was going in all these different directions.

Art was always there. I was always drawing, but it wasn't the main thing. All the way through high school, even into college, I majored in physics. I hit kind of a wall with math. I had a bad teacher who turned me off of calculus at a critical moment, and even though my grades were very high in astronomy and physics, I switched to English because I wanted to write.

I was sort of going in two different directions. I was 25 or 26 before I really settled in and said, "This is it. I'm going to work in film in some capacity."

What finally attracted me to film in such a definitive way was... it was the only place I could reconcile the need to tell stories and to work in a visual art medium, and the desire to understand things at a technological level -- and my fascination with engineering and technology.

James Cameron Interview Photo
It was a way to fuse those interests. I didn't know where I'd wind up within film. I actually started as a model builder and quickly progressed into production design, which made sense because I could draw and paint. But I kept watching that guy over there who was moving the actors around and setting up the shots.

I had pictured myself as a filmmaker but I had never pictured myself as a director if that makes any sense at all. I wanted to make films, and I understood at some intellectual level that the director was the person who was most in charge creatively, but I had never pictured myself in that role, as the guy with the monocle and the megaphone. It had no meaning for me. But then...

I watched a couple of really bad directors work, and I saw how they completely botched it up and missed the visual opportunities of the scene when we had put things in front of them as opportunities. Set pieces, props and so on. They had these great actors to work with and they just blew it. And there was a moment where I said, "I may not be very good at this but I know I'm better than that guy." And that was kind of a critical moment because when you realize that you can at least be better than somebody else who is already doing it, then you can visualize yourself doing the job.

[ Key to Success ] Vision

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This page last revised on Apr 06, 2012 14:43 EDT
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