The Long Slog And The Comic-Con Challenge
“In the most important respects as a director, I’m 100 per cent done because the film is shot and edited,” Cameron has said recently.
“My job for the next few months until we deliver at the end of November is more as a visual effects person, working to make sure that the shots look real, that they’re all up to an even standard.”
“In terms of a film’s cut, the studio has seen it. They were pretty happy with it."
"There are whole sections of the film that are actually done. It’s just a question of getting in some of the remaining scenes from what we call template level where it looks like a video game up to the level of photo-realism.
"All the template stuff was turned over to Weta like a year ago or in some cases, six months ago for the shots that will come in last. The process is quite labor intensive. I’m working 14, 16 hours a day but all the major creative decisions have been made.”
But before that ever happened, there was the marking campaign to think about.
The big problem with being such a perfectionist about your work is having to actually give it up for others to see, particularly if you're not sure it's ready.
But James Cameron also realised the advantage of getting bums on seats once the thing is actually released. So, as is his nature, he became very involved in how the thing is marketed.
As early 2009 rolled around, it was decided that the following July's Comic-Con would be the perfect launching point for the first big screening of footage. You've got your core audience and a social networking-equipped horde of fans who love to spread the word if they like a presentation.
"We'd get some direct feedback from knowledgeable fans that don't have to be educated all the way up to understanding the movie. They can sort of look at it and be like, “Pow. I get it," explains Cameron.
"They'll get the references and things like that, too. So I think that feedback can be really valuable. I mean, we were still cutting the picture. The scenes won't change probably but there are other scenes that we were still finalizing the FX on that had to be massaged into place.
"I'm not talking about big cuts but we still had a chance to shape it a little bit, shape the response.
"The other thing is that when you live with something over a total creative arc of, in this case, fourteen years you start to take certain things for granted that you understand so fundamentally.
"But you have to remember people are coming in cold and starting from zero. So I wanted to make sure that I hadn't left anything out in terms of making sure that the story is fully accessible to everybody, not just a fan audience but a wider audience.
"By fan audience I mean someone that knows all the references, knows all the other films, are steeped in the lore, that sort of thing. But a construction worker, somebody's mom, if they go see the movie we have to make a movie for everybody."
While the footage might not have provoked the rapturous reaction as something like New Moon enjoyed (what could), the word was largely positive.
The next test would be trailers. Oh, and Cameron's big Comic-Con announcement that there'd be an "Avatar Day" where thousands of cinemagoers around the world could get a look at some footage...