James Cameron was on ABC's "Nightline" last night — and in a candid interview, he shed additional light on what we can expect from the next two "Avatar" films, both in terms of content and environmental themes.
But first, let's talk about Cameron's 100-acre Santa Barbara ranch — bits of which he opened up for the first time for the news cameras. Not only does the property offer stunning access and views of the Pacific, but it's also off-grid and features a wind turbine, which the 57-year-old director designed himself. He and “Nightline” anchor Bill Weir drove around the property in a Chevy Volt, with Cameron later saying that these natural surroundings helped in part to inspire the fictional world of Pandora.
“I liked the idea of exploring other planets, and then I found out we have this alien planet right here on Earth called the ocean,” he told Weir. Cameron, an avid ocean explorer, is currently developing a sub that can take him down to some of the deepest points on the planet. Rumors suggest that some scenes in the films will feature video taken during the expeditions.
And while we already knew Pandora's oceans would be front and center for the next film, it's clear that Cameron will once again use the opportunity to educate about the importance of conservation and environmental stewardship.
“It focuses on ocean issues,” Cameron said. “We’ve got a planet that’s a blue planet. From a distance, you look at it and Earth is a lot more blue than it is brown — you know, the landmass — and we’re making the oceans unsurvivable for a lot of the species right now. … It’s just a way to focus a little energy in that direction.”
“We will see the oceans of Pandora,” he added, ”which we haven’t seen at all, and that’s an ecosystem that I’m dying to start designing, because it's going to look spectacular.”
He also expanded upon his commitment to reduce the environmental footprint of the next two films — and in the process, raise the bar for using solar energy to power Hollywood productions.
“We use a lot of computer power, and so you've got a lot of people at work stations. We’re drawing on a lot of wattage for all the computers and render machines,” he said. “What we’re going to do is, essentially, put a 1.2-megawatt solar power station on the roof of our new facility so we will actually be net zero in energy. We’ll get it all from the sun to power the next two ‘Avatar’ films.”
“We just go to a big solar provider integrator and, you know, you work with a local utility and, so, a power-purchase agreement and the installation [can be designed],” he added. “It’s actually fairly straightforward. … In California, especially, there are some good rebates available for solar, so it actually starts to make it cost-effective.”