Posted on Thursday, June 17th, 2021 by
Good morning, class. I have a very special announcement. James Cameron, the filmmaker behind some of the biggest hits of all time, is your new teacher! So you better sit up straight and look like you’re interested in all those Avatar sequels. Cameron is the latest big-name director to teach an online MasterClass, following in the footsteps of directors such as Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog, and David Lynch, and his class is available right now. The class features 15 video lessons and clocks in a little over three hours, and promises to give students rare insight into Cameron’s process.
James Cameron MasterClass
Launched in 2015, MasterClass is a streaming platform full of video lessons from famous, talented folks from all walks of life. You can take classes on business, design, sports, cooking, and more, all taught by some considerably recognizable folks. There are also filmmaking classes, taught by the likes of Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Werner Herzog, and more. The latest big director to get in on this action is James Cameron, who took a break from making Avatar sequels, came out of his deep-sea submarine, and sat down to spend almost three-and-a-half hours teaching you how to make movies the Jim Cameron way.
The James Cameron MasterClass promises to provide subscribers with a behind-the-scenes look at Cameron’s creative process, in which the filmmaker will share “the principles and techniques that have shaped his iconic work.” Cameron uses breakdowns from his films Aliens, The Terminator, Titanic, and (of course) Avatar to teach members “how to identify stories that demand telling, build tension, create compelling characters—whether man, machine or alien—and harness technology to fully immerse audiences in imagined worlds. Cameron also offers practical advice that applies to all levels of film production, no matter the budget, big or small. Interlaced with intimate insights from his storied career, from how dreams inspire his work to lessons on leadership, Cameron’s class will leave members inspired to share the insider knowledge they’ve learned with others and empowered to make their own movies.”
Even if you don’t want to make movies, per se, this sounds like a great way to study Cameron’s work. And make no mistake, Cameron’s work deserves to be studied. I can give Cameron some good-natured ribbing about his Avatar sequels all day long, until the Na’vi come home, but I also recognize that he’s a fantastic filmmaker; a technical genius who understands the craft better than most.
“I’ve been directing films for almost four decades, and if there’s one thing I’ve realized, it’s that learning is a constant process,” Cameron said. “Every filmmaker stands on the shoulders of the filmmakers who came before them, and I hope that my MasterClass will allow members to filter and develop my techniques through their own subjective lens and experiences.”
“Having directed two of the top three highest-grossing films of all time, there’s no question the impact that Jim has had on both the film industry and film fans around the world,” added David Rogier, founder and CEO of MasterClass. “In his class, Jim takes our members behind the camera and, for the first time in his career, shares what he’s learned in four decades of directing epic films.”
The James Cameron MasterClass is available.
Is MasterClass Worth It?
You might be wondering: is MasterClass worth paying for? I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve very much enjoyed the MasterClasses I’ve taken part in. Will they magically transform you into a filmmaker? Absolutely not! But they do give you valuable insight into how certain filmmakers work. The Martin Scorsese class (which I wrote about) is invaluable, in my humble opinion. And the David Lynch class (which I wrote about ) is almost as good, featuring a candid and amusing Lynch talking not just about his brilliant, enigmatic work, but about film as an art form in general. There’s a particularly wonderful part where we watch Lynch watch the final minutes of It’s A Wonderful Life, an experience that actually moves him to tears.
Again: don’t expect MasterClass to change your life. You’re not going to watch a lesson from James Cameron and then immediately start making blockbusters. But if you’re interested in filmmaking, and insight into the minds of some great filmmakers, this is very much worth your time and money. There’s even a phone app, in case you just want to listen to the classes like they were podcasts.
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