Cameron Vs. Piranha 3D – Round 2

IGN reports:

“As a producer in the entertainment industry, Jim Cameron’s comments on VanityFair.com are very disappointing to me and the team that made Piranha 3D. Mr. Cameron, who singles himself out to be a visionary of movie-making, seems to have a small vision regarding any motion pictures that are not his own. It is amazing that in the movie-making process – which is certainly a team sport – that Cameron consistently celebrates himself out as though he is a team of one. His comments are ridiculous, self-serving and insulting to those of us who are not caught up in serving his ego and his rhetoric.

Jim, are you kidding or what? First of all, let’s start by you accepting the fact that you were the original director of Piranha 2 and you were fired. Shame on you for thinking that genre movies and the real maestros like Roger Corman and his collaborators are any less auteur or impactful in the history of cinema than you. Martin Scorcese made Boxcar Bertha at the beginning of his career. And Francis Ford Coppola made Dimentia 13 [sic] back in 1963. And those are just a few examples of the talented and successful filmmakers whose roots are in genre films. Who are you to impugn any genre film or its creators?

Having been deeply involved, as either an executive or as a producer, on Tim Burton’s original Batman and the first Men in Black, as well as 300, and now Immortals, one of the things that has been consistent about all of the filmmakers involved in these landscape-changing global films is that, in each and every case, all of the directors were humbled by their predecessors, their colleagues and by their awareness of the great history of film that came before them. The enjoyment and the immersion of an audience in a movie theatre, as they had and will have with the above-mentioned films, and as audiences are experiencing with Piranha 3D now, comes from the originality and the vision of the filmmaker, and not just from the creation of the technology. You as much as anyone certainly knows that there are many pieces to the puzzle. Going to the movies still remains, arguably, amongst the best communal experiences that human beings can share.

My sense is that Mr. Cameron has never seen Piranha 3D …certainly not in a movie theatre with a real audience. Jim, we invite you to take that opportunity and experience the movie in a theatre full of fans – fans for whom this movie was always intended to entertain. Does Mr. Cameron have no idea of the painstaking efforts made by the talented young filmmaker Alex Aja and his team of collaborators? Clearly, and this one is a good bet, he has no clue as to how great and how much of a fun-filled experience the audiences who have seen the film in 3D have enjoyed. Those of us who have tried to stay in touch with the common movie audiences – the ones who really matter, the ones who actually still go to the theatre, put on the glasses, and eat the popcorn – take joy and pride in the fact that movies of all kinds, including Piranha 3D, have a place in filmmaking history – past, present and future.

3D unto itself is not a genre Jim, it is a tool that gives audiences an enhanced experience as they experience all kinds of movies. I believe Mr. Cameron did not see Piranha 3D either with any real audience or not at all. On opening weekend, I was in a Los Angeles theatre with a number of today’s great film makers including JJ Abrams, who actually had nothing short of the fabulous, fun 3D experience that the movie provides. I am fortunate enough to have worked on, and continue to work on, evolutionary movies in all formats from just simple good story telling, which still matters most of all, to CG movies to tent-pole size 3D movies, and genre 3D movies like Piranha 3D.

What it comes down to, Jim, is – that like most things in life – size doesn’t really matter. Not everyone has the advantage of having endless amounts of money to play in their sandbox and to take ten years using other people’s money to make and market a film….like you do. Why can’t you just count your blessings? Why do you have to drop Marty Scorsese’s or Tim Burton’s names, both gentlemen who I have personally worked with, and who have enjoyed great joy and success with movies of all genres and sizes well before the advent of modern 3D? Then as now, they were like kids in a candy store recognizing, far beyond your imagination, the possibilities of storytelling and originality.

For the record, before you just totally dismiss Piranha 3D and all, in your opinion, worthless genre movies that actually undoubtedly gave you the ability to start your career, you should know that Piranha 3D had an 82% “fresh” (positive) ratting on Rotten Tomatoes on opening day – a web site that all the studios, filmmakers and the public use as a barometer of what makes a quality film. We know that Piranha 3D has not achieved a boxoffice that is on the level of many of Mr. Cameron’s successes. To date, Piranha 3D has earned over $30 million around the globe with #1 openings in several countries. And, as the “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes indicates, critics and many, many others have embraced and celebrated Piranha 3D for the fun and entertaining – and even smart – movie-going experience that it is.

Let’s just keep this in mind Jim….you did not invent 3D. You were fortunate that others inspired you to take it further. The simple truth is that I had nothing but good things to say about Avatar and my own experience since I actually saw it and didn’t damn someone else’s talent publicly in order to disassociate myself from my origins in the business from which we are all very fortunate. To be honest, I found the 3D in Avatar to be inconsistent and while ground breaking in many respects, sometimes I thought it overwhelmed the storytelling. Technology aside, I wish Avatar had been more original in its storytelling.

We have to inspire, teach and mentor this next generation of filmmakers. It is garbage to suggest that any film or any filmmaker who cannot afford to work to your standards should be dissuaded from following his or her craft by not making 3D movies or not making movies like District 9, for example, which probably cost the amount of Avatar’s craft services budget, but totally rocked it in the movie theatre and in the marketplace. In that case, it was not a 3D movie. But had it been, it certainly would not have been any less original or impactful. The enormous worldwide success of Avatar has been good in all respects for you, your financiers, your distributors and the industry, as well as for the movie going public. Jim, there is a difference between Maestro which is a word that garners respect, and Dictator or Critic which are words better left for others who are not in our mutual boat or on our team. You are one of the best, it is reasonable to think that you should dig deeper and behave like it. Young directors should be inspired by you, not publicly castigated by your mean-spirited and flawed analysis.

While we are all awed by your talents and your box office successes – and I compliment you on all of them – why don’t you rethink how you address films with which you are not involved? You should be taking the high road that is being travelled by so many of your peers, and pulling with them to ensure that we, as an industry, will have a continuum of talented filmmakers that will deliver a myriad of motion pictures both big and small, with 3D or any other technologies yet to come that will entertain audiences throughout the world. That is the challenge that we face. That is the future that we should deliver.

Please go see Piranha 3D in a theatre near you.”

Damn. That’s quite the response to Cameron’s remarks. I for one, am on this guy’s team. I support most of what he responded here. In all fairness, he’s straight to the point, and defends himself pretty strongly. I loved the “Let’s just keep in mind Jim…you did not invent 3D.” Priceless! You can sum it up to the “You should be taking the high road that is being travelled by so many of your peers, and pulling with them”. That’s true, and I support that. But in the end, do you really think Cameron gives a shit about this movie, response, or anybody else in the industry or Earth? No. Stay tuned for a possible Round 3.

What do you think of this response? You on side Cameron or side Piranha? Do you think Cameron will respond?

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20 thoughts on “Cameron Vs. Piranha 3D – Round 2

  1. I’ve read Jim’s comments about P3D and the recent response… I’ve worked albeit briefly, but in fact, directly with Jim Cameron and I’ll say this; Before directing commercials, music videos, short films and moving on to direct my first feature film this past year, on my way up the Hollywood ladder as a creature designer, sculptor and FX technician, I’ve had the good fortune to have worked with some incredibly talented people. I’ve learned from them all and they’ve all inspired me in different ways. None however, as much or as intensely as Cameron. His knowledge of the film-making process is simply frightening. He’s incredibly intelligent, articulate and adept in every single job on that set. He’s incredibly demanding and openly acknowledges it. Some people can hang with that. Some people can’t. I had no problem with it. I had so much respect and admiration for the man, that I wanted to be a better artist for him. I wanted to give him my absolute best. He expects that from everyone around him and relies on their skills and support to achieve his vision. All good directors do that. He pushes himself and those around him to excel.

    I remember even before meeting him, I was working at Stan Winston’s in the late 80’s as a teenager, where stories of Cameron on “The Terminator” and “Aliens” were those of legend. All of the artists that worked there; Alec Gillis, John Rosengrant, Shane Mahan, as well as Stan himself, said they’d never worked with a director who was so focused, passionate, or involved in every single part of making those films. These guys almost painted him as this magical apparition that if you didn’t know better, you’d question if he was even real. They showed me copies of drawings he had done and they were phenomenal. Here was a director who could draw, sculpt, Paint, build models, and do FX work, in most cases better than the people hired to achieve those things on his films. Later, as I learned more about him, and got to work on “The Abyss”, it became evident that those were not the only things he had a working knowledge of… He knew everyone’s job and they knew it. The crew knew there was no pulling the wool over his eyes… You didn’t dare bring him something unsatisfactory. You really had to rise to the occasion when working for him and bring your A game, because nothing else would be tolerated. From the perspective of a starry eyed, 21 year old kid, who wanted to be a director, there was no better experience or environment for me. I soon began sneaking on to the set, even though I wasn’t supposed to be there, just to watch him. I remember hanging on every word he said and every move he made. I wanted to be like him.

    Years later, I remember speaking with Stan about Jim and he told me; “Kid, some people are put off by the way Jim works and how intense he is. I like it and thrive on it. I want to become better at what I do, and Jim is the kind of guy who inspires me to do that…” I’ve always remembered those words and they’ve never rang more true than now. Instead of being inspired and driven by “Avatar” or even by the comments he’s made about pushing the medium to the next level, people seem to lash out him. I honestly in my heart, think that people do not really recognize this guy for the sheer, absolute genius he is and respect him as such. Like most brilliant people, he’s often misunderstood and what he says sometimes gets taken out of context or skewed one way or the other. When he was going to do “Spider-man” back in the day, I did some concept illustrations for him and remember him talking about how he was going to handle the character, costume, how he’d move, etc… I was just completely captivated by the guy and didn’t want to leave. I think he has that affect on a lot of people he works with. I just wish some of the media could see that side of him. The child like, excited, passionate guy, who just wants to make movies.

    I’m not out to bash P3D or to say it isn’t a competent work. This letter is not about that at all. I’m simply providing a different and somewhat unique perspective of the issue, from someone who worked with Cameron personally, even if only for the briefest moment. As a matter of fact, the relatively small amount of time I spent with the man, compared to the gargantuan influence he’s had on my life and career, is further testament to the kind of dynamic and intense person he is. To say that he doesn’t respect his roots or whatever, regarding Corman, I think is incorrect as well. Jim’s aesthetic is just different… His work isn’t geared toward the joke, or the overly silly– Excessive in respect to gore, sex, or even violence. He doesn’t make films like that. Alexandre Aja does. That’s where I think the rub lies, and what offends some people. I just wish people would lay off Cameron for speaking his mind on the 3D issue or anything else for that matter, as I think he’s earned that right regardless of what his thoughts may be or how they’re expressed. Nor do I think Jim is acting outside of his peers in not supporting other, younger filmmakers at all. I myself, have been inexorably inspired by the man, his incredible accomplishments and his hands on approach to directing. I wish nothing but continued success and prosperity for both he and Mr. Aja. They are both part of a very small group of fortunate individuals who get to work at a level so few of us ever reach.

    With humility and respect,

    Sandy Collora

  2. Cameron does impressive work but he does have a tendency to blow on his own sails.

    I remember his “I’m the King of the World!” line when he won the Oscar and the audience kinda just murmured in embarrassment.

    Classic Jim…

  3. boom … that’s quite a response to a little tiny quote by Cameron, but i’m on Piranha 3-D’s side.

    Cameron is an egotistical prick and everything that this guy from Piranha had to say was right on the money and certain lines in there were money!

    but I do agree with someone’s comment from above of Cameron not really giving a shit about Piranha 3-D and also not giving a shit about anything not concerning himself, so he probably won’t even read the letter, probably just get the cliff notes version from a lowly intern.

  4. visually avatar was cool but it was basically dances with wolves in space. wasnt thats special. cameron needs to get off his high horse. im sure if i waited 10 years to make a movie people would be curious and spend the money on it too

  5. I absolutely side with Cameron. (Read my response under Round 1)

    How did so many get that he was being egotistical? I didn’t get that at all. What I got was him see films like Piranha and Step it up using 3D cheapening what he has done to make 3D what it is today. As a way to immerse you into the film. Not using it as some kind of gimmick where things jump out at you on the screen. Using it in that way is what killed 3D in the 80’s.

    Basically what I’m seeing from some of these commenter’s is the classic crabs in a bucket syndrome. Just because Cameron is successful and sees these movies cheapening 3D. Does not make him egotistical. I don’t even think hes saying movies like Piranha 3D should not be made. But rather this is not the right time to make those movies. Since 3D is still fairly new this time around. It hasn’t fully been accepted by everyone. Movies like that can hurt the publics opinion of 3D.

  6. You know to be honest I’ve always been a fan of Cameron but I don’t understand why people get so carried away with the man.

    Cameron for years has been on the forefront of using great technology to compliment sci-fi movies. I’ve loved everything I’ve seen of his but the man has always had an ego and he is a relentless self-promoter.

    While I did enjoy Avatar I think the truth of the matter is like most of Camerons films it is just an action movie that looks pretty. Not a bad movie by any standard of course but it is no 2001: A Space Odyssey or Bladerunner.

    Personally the way I see it is James Cameron and Avatar is commercial sci-fi done really well. On the other hand I’m more of a Children of Men and District 9 type.

    Yes you can start flaming me now, have fun.

    1. Why would anybody flame you? Apart from your celebration of Bladerunner (a sleep inducing crapfest that no one admits suxs, imo) everything you said is valid and is considered to be true by most people. As always, i’ll keep pretending cameron’s dumbass comments were never brought forth so that i can keep enjoying his work

  7. If you take the revolutionary way 3D is done in Avatar, it’s a pretty crappy movie with mediocre CGI effects that constantly look like CGI vs movies like Watchmen and 300 and Kick Ass and Star Wars and and and…

  8. Gotta side with this guy. Cameron was such an egotistical a-hole about it. He sounds like the snooty uptight kid that always huffed and puffed about other kids his age not being mature and sophisticated. They didn’t set out to make the messiah of all films. They made what they intended to, a fun, self-deprecating genre film. This response was totally called for and, while sounding snarky, still raised MANY good points.

  9. Totally siding with Piranha 3D. Cameron is a total egotistical nut job who totally had this coming and I’m glad someone finally had the guts to do this.

  10. I grew up watching Cameron’s films, but I must say that his remarks were that of an egotistical c**t. He continues to blow up his own spot and presence, for what? For having the #1 movie in the world? Big deal! Tons of people went to see the Transformers movies and the later Star Wars films and those were vapid. That’s like Kanye West saying “I’m a better artist because I sell more records than Mos Def” No, you don’t…you sell more because you’re marketable, a product, and geared towards the general public. (I use kanye west as a reference and comparison because he’s the equivalent of Cameron in the music world). Bottom line is, Cameron has officially gotten too big for his britches. He’s also clearly pissed off that he lost the Oscar to his ex wife, who made a film infinitely better and more original than his own Dances with Wolves rip off…and she did it for less money. His mentality of filmmaking is that of a child that states “whoever winds up with the most toys wins”. Good for you, guy…and he complains about 3-D post production conversion as well, but isn’t this d**khole releasing Titanic through post production 3-D conversion too? Dammit…I hate people like this.

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