Full London Avatar Press Conference

in Film

After much anticipation Avatar was finally revealed to the worlds press yesterday with screenings around the world and the World Premier and Press Conference in London.

It's finally out there, how do you feel?

James Cameron: Sorely empty (laughs) but we can feel we've got our head held high that we got the picture done on time by the skin of our teeth. It's been a four and a half year process, so we're gonna pull the cover back and show the world, so to speak here in London, it's really a huge relief to let people see it instead of people keeping on talking about it, it will put the rumors to bed

What was it like when you saw you Avatars after the motion capture?

Zoe Saldana: It blew my mind, Jim would sometimes incorporate us in the process, he would send us the results of all the company's he was working with, we couldn't express through words how we felt, they look so new and so beautiful and they looked so much like us, it was kinda unimaginable.

Sigounrey Weaver: We all had renderings of our Avatars while we were doing our performance capturing, for me Grace had such a haunting face, I think because her human life is so guarded, the rendering was a real inspiration to me, so I was very surprised when I actually watched the movie that he hadn't done it like the rendering, Grace looked just like Sigourney only that I was 10 feet tall and blue which is a much improved version of myself (laughs). It was wonderful having a double life as a character and seeing it realised so magnificently by Jim.

Sam Worthington: My biggest fear was that I try to be a very subtle actor, I was worried that my performance would not translate when it goes through the computer, I was hopeful. Then when I watched it, THAT was my performance, every glimmer in my eye, every smirk, every goofy walk, that has enraptured my spirit, hopefully when you sit and watch the film, after 20 or 30 minutes your not watching big blue people your watching the spirit of us.

How did you connect with your cast when you were directing them in virtual reality?

James Cameron: The interesting thing about performance capture is that its probably the best actor/director relationship I've ever been involved in because normally on a photographic set, and we shot for 4 months photographically in Wellington, you'll see that parts of the film were done that way and parts of the film where done virtually, but with the virtual working process I'm not distracted by the lighting, the time of day, the sun setting if the shot has to be done by 6.15, a 1000 questions come up that pull the director away from working with the actors who are really just there to do the acting, they're there to act and I'm there to work with them and try and get the best performance I can from them, so we spend our time to find a moment of truth then we'll go and huddle over the hi-def playback so we can look at their faces, I won't see them as their Na'vi or their Avatar characters for months or even years after that because the process takes so long, but as long as I know in that moment that we've gotten it, then I don't have to worry about it down stream, it's a long process but what we get in the end is exactly where we started from, we wisely didn't make the assumption we can change it or modify it later, we fought hard in the moment to get exactly what we wanted to say, no ones harder on Zoe, Sam or Sigourney than themselves. I've had a really stimulating process and I think we all bonded making this film, in attempts for excellence

Visually what were your influences?

James Cameron: I just swept in every design influence I've had in my life, I've always had a deep respect for nature, a lot of my youth was spent out in the woods, hiking and collecting samples and putting it under microscopes and them types of things, I've spent over 2500 hours under water and I've seen things that are absolutely astonishing at the bottom of the ocean which really is like an alien planet. I've always felt that's been a gift in my life to live out a science fiction adventure for real on them diving expeditions, the ocean was a big influence, the creatures, the textures, the colourful creatures.

I found it really interesting that the heroes in the film weren't the ones who had huge mechanised military force on there sides, could you tell us a bit about the message your projecting?

James Cameron: I think obviously there's a connection to recent events and there's a conscious attempt to even invoke Vietnam era military with the way the guys are jumping of the helicopters, it's a way of connecting a thread through history, I'd even take that thread farther because I like to have a historical memory that goes back farther than just now, going back to the 16th and 17th century's how the Europeans pretty much took over the South Central area and North America and displaced and marginalised the indigenous people there, there's a long wonderful history of the human race written in blood going as far back as we can remember going as far back to the Roman Empire and even farther back that that where we seem to have this tendency to take what we want without asking as the character Jake says in the film. I see that as a broader metaphor not so intensely politicised, broader in a sense of how we treat the natural world as well. It's a sense of entitlement like we're here, we're big, we've got the guns, we've got the brains, we've got the technology so we're entitled to every damn thing on this planet and that's not how it works, we're gonna find the hard way if we don't wise up. The film espouses a love/relationship with technology, obviously we use technology to tell a story about nature which is an irony in itself, it's not that technology is bad we just need to be in control of our technological process.

Was is it hard with something this big to keep up with Jim's vision?

Zoe Saldana: We had so much reference, we went to Hawaii for 4 days before shooting the film, we wore dental floss type costumes, umping around the rain forest for four days, getting our feet wet knowing what it's like to walk on that ground, seeing how the sun was cast on the leaves and trees, cooking fish on the ground. Because Jim knew he needed people who could make something out of thin air the least he could have done was to take us places and answer every question, there was no such thing as a redundant question, there was always resources, anything we needed.

Sam Worthington: I was only wearing a lace g string (laughs), some ears, a tale and a weird wig, I thought it was gonna be a holiday but we worked hard, then a guy came by and asked what are you doing, we said we're making a movie, he said a budget movie, who's directing it, we said that bloke over , so there's Jim with a handy cam and he goes is that James Cameron, we said yeah, he said F*CK he's gone downhill since the Titanic (laughs). Now that has become Avatar.

Is there gonna be an Avatar 2?

James Cameron: I always said during making of the film I dreaded it making money because we'd have to do it all over again, but in fact when I pitched it to Fox, I said so much has been put into this one a whole planet, plants, creatures, bugs etc, they were all designed by people over a period of years, they all have value so the pitch was that we spent so much money on that we won't need as much for the second one, we can just focus on the story, they bought that (laughs) so now I feel like I have to, but that will only happen if this one makes some money, I've got a story set out for the 2nd one, and 3rd film but my lips are sealed.

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This article was published on 2010/12/04