James Cameron Gave Avatar Sequel Writers 1,500 Pages of Notes
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 06.01.2014
They had a lot to go on...
Okay, there's all in and then there's really going for it 1,000%. The latter is what James Cameron is doing with his Avatar franchise, as Cameron revealed at the Hero Complex Film Festival (via /Film) that he wrote 1,500 pages of notes on the world of Pandora for the four writers tapped to write the three sequels to the film.
Cameron notes that they went ambitious for the scripts, saying, "We tried an experiment. We set ourselves a challenge of writing three films at the same time. And 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, fun experience."
He continued, "So we put together three teams, one for each script. The teams consist of me and another writer on each one of the three [films]. So I'm across all the films and then each one of them would have their own individual script they were responsible for. But what we did that was unique was we sat in the 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, sort of, three film saga. And I didn't tell them which one was going to be there's individually to write until the last day. So everyone was equally invested, story wise, in all three films."
Cameron noted that he did a lot of prep, saying, "...the first thing I did was sat for a year and wrote 1500 pages of notes of the world and the cultures and the different clans and different animals and different biomes and so on. And had a lot of loose thematic stuff that ran through that but I didn't a concrete story. I wanted to approach it more like, "Guys we're going to adapt a novel or series of novels." Because I felt that kind of detail, even if movies can't ever be that detailed – it can be visually detailed, it can't be that detailed in terms of character and culture. But you always get this tip of the iceberg kind of thing. You sense it's there off camera or in the past of the moment that you're seeing. So I felt that was the way to do it."
Avatar 2 opens in December 2016, with Avatar 3 coming in December 2017 and the fourth hitting in December 2018.