So James Cameron had some interesting things to say at the LA Times Hero Complex Film Festival over the weekend and in particular about writing AVATAR 2, 3 and 4.
At this point we know about his writing team of Shane Salerno (AVATAR 4), Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa (Married and co-writers on AVATAR 3) and Josh Friedman (AVATAR 2), but we didn't know how it would all work. How do you bring together 5 writers (Cameron is obviously involved too) to get these productions done back to back to back?
Well as it turns out, I don't need to paraphrase what was said as Cameron can communicate very well - so here are his comments:
James Cameron: "We tried an experiment. We set ourselves a challenge of writing three films at the same time. I knew I could certainly write any one of them but to write three in some reasonable amount of time – we wanted to shoot them together so we couldn’t start one until all three scripts were done and approved. So I knew I was going to have to ‘parallel process’ which meant I would have to work with other writers. And the best experience I had working with other writers was in television when I did Dark Angel. The television room is a highly collaborative and fun experience. So we put together a team, three teams actually — one for each script. The teams consist of me and another writer on each one of those three films. Each [individual writer] would have their own script that they’re responsible for. But what we did that was unique beforehand was we sat in a writing room for five-months eight-hours-a-day and we worked out every beat of the story across all three films so it all connects as one three film saga. I didn’t tell [the three writers] which sequel was going to be theirs to write until the very last day. So everybody was equally invested story-wise in all three films. So the guy that got the third movie, which is the middle film of this new trilogy, he now knows what preceded and what follows out of what he’s writing at any given moment. We all consider that to be a really exciting, creative and groundbreaking experiment in screenwriting. It worked as a process to get our minds around this epic and all these new creatures and environments and characters."
Love how he did not disclose who would be writing what early on! That would cultivate the best ideas from all of them during the massive group sessions so that they can be spread out equally and thoughtfully throughout the timeline. It would also lead to cohesiveness of the storyline too - you don't want abrupt changes from one movie to the next. I'm thrilled to hear how this was done!
AVATAR 2 is slated for a December 2016 release with AVATAR 3 and 4 due out in 2017 and 2018.