James Cameron’s works have had a significant influence on modern action-adventure films. The Academy Award winner is known for taking audiences on wild rides through any setting he can imagine, whether it is the dystopian worlds of The Terminator films or Pandora’s opulent ecosystem in Avatar.
It should come as no surprise that reporters have frequently asked director James Cameron about the inspirations behind his films, considering that he is the most commercially successful director in Hollywood. Over the years, Cameron has enumerated a number of favorites, but one Hollywood legend that consistently appears on his list is Steven Spielberg. He was so taken aback by the Jaws director that he addressed him as his “master” and “sensei”.
Cameron also has a soft spot for another esteemed director, Ridley Scott, whose astoundingly brilliant films, Blade Runner and Alien, left an indelible impression on us.
James Cameron at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con International
James Cameron called Steven Spielberg ‘the sensei we all learn from’
Both Steven Spielberg and James Cameron have contributed significantly to the film industry over the years, directing and producing works of art that have won critical acclaim. Spielberg transformed the summer blockbuster with Jaws, and Cameron pushed the limits of visual effects with Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Their common goal of pushing the boundaries of filmmaking and telling compelling stories is what holds them together. That’s why Cameron considered Spielberg his master.
Speaking to the Directors Guild of America about Spielberg’s influence on him, Cameron said that the former was the mentor for all directors who came after him:
“Steven is the master. He’s the sensei we all learn from, and he’s continuously reinventing himself so we can continuously learn from him.”
However, this does not mean that Cameron is without criticism for Spielberg’s directing approach. When it came to the latter’s lack of knowledge about modern technological developments, Cameron expressed his shock, saying:
“However the technology of moviemaking evolves, I want to be at the cutting edge. I want to be riding the wave. I don’t want the wave to wash over me and be looking at it from the backside heading toward the shore with everybody else riding it. I happen to enjoy that part of it a great deal.”
This dynamic of creative growth and knowledge exchange has benefited both legendary filmmakers and serves as an inspiration for the next generation of directors.
James Cameron Also Has Admiration for Ridley Scott’s ‘Filmmaking’
Few people know that, despite the differences in their approaches to filmmaking, James Cameron also appreciates Ridley Scott’s body of work and his capacity to enthrall audiences with his narrative skills. The former once said, as reported by SYFI WIRE:
“I love Ridley’s films and I love his filmmaking, I love the beauty of the photography, I love the visceral sense that you’re there, that you’re present.”
Cameron has often mentioned how Scott’s Alien greatly influenced the way he approaches building suspense and tension on screen. His filmmaking style was permanently altered by Scott’s ability to create a world full of fear while keeping the audience on the edge of their seats. In 2017, the Titanic director said to Vulture:
“Ridley [Scott] did the first film, and he inspired an entire generation of filmmakers and science-fiction fans with that one movie, and there have been so many films that stylistically have derived from it, including my own Aliens, which was the legitimate sequel and, I think, the proper heir to his film. I sort of did it as a fanboy. I wanted to honour his film but also say what I needed to say.”
Cameron’s 1986 film Aliens, on the other hand, was more action-oriented. Speaking of his career, he got his break in 1980 working as an art director on Roger Corman’s science fiction film Battle Beyond the Stars. He started work on 1984’s The Terminator, whose success opened the door for Aliens, The Abyss, and Titanic.