February 10, 2019
James Cameron Thinks Computers Will Soon Make Movies and “It’ll Suck”
James Cameron loves using the latest cutting-edge technology for his film work, but that doesn’t mean he has only positive things to say about tech. The Avatar filmmaker recently said he thinks we’re headed towards a future when movies are created by artificial intelligence. And when that happens, it will, in Cameron’s words, “suck.”
In a recent interview with Little White Lies, James Cameron, the man who created The Terminator, was asked if he thought we might be headed towards a future where computers create movies. Cameron answered in the affirmative, and he didn’t sound very happy about it:
“I think you’ve got plenty of AI experts around who would say, yeah, sure. They’d take every movie every made, throw it into a massive database, feed all that into an AI, deep learning neural networks will analyse why they work, and you’ll have an AI create a movie – and it’ll suck. Because the AI is not embodied, it’s not having the human experience. It’ll be like a filmmaker who only knows other movies as opposed to being human.”
You better not let a robot filmmaker hear you talking that way, Cameron. He might throw his bolts at you.
Cameron goes on to say that that that human component is essential to what makes movies so special. He also advises budding filmmakers to “live a bit of life”:
“People ask me all the time, ‘What would your advice be to a young filmmaker?’ It used to be, pick up a camera and start making a movie. Now my advice is, live a bit of life, then pick up a camera and make a film about what you know and what you’ve experienced. Don’t go from being a superfan in high school to film school, and come out knowing nothing about life except what you’ve seen in movies. Because you don’t know shit. You’ve got nothing new to say.”
That’s right, folks: James Cameron thinks you don’t know shit. Rudeness aside, I do think there’s value in what Cameron is saying. It’s just interesting that such a thought is coming from a man who has spent his career making big, loud, special-effects driven movies about robots, aliens and spies. Then again, it’s easy to forget that Cameron is a pretty damn good storyteller. The filmmaker hasn’t made a movie in 10 years, and all he seems interested now is making Avatar sequels. But his early films are brimming with both innovation and heart. I recently rewatched Terminator 2 for the first time in a long time, and was struck not just by the technical achievements – which still hold up – but also the character-based drama that occupies a good portion of the film. That’s a very human thing.
As for whether or not we’ll see an AI-directed movie, I really don’t know. But it’s not entirely outside the realm of possibility. The 2016 experimental film Sunspring was written entirely by an artificial intelligence bot using neural networks.
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