Why does this man make so much money? I can't answer this question for everyone, but I can answer it for me. I'm a girl who got her first SCUBA mask at 15 and got certified in a rock quarry in Pennsylvania in winter (which means I am both nitrox and dry suit certified, thank you very much). I cleaned animal poo at at veterinary clinic to fund my voyage to Sea Camp in San Diego at around that age. I can relate to his love of exploring the "alien" underwater world.
Further, as someone who lugged a 70 lb Cousteau-style underwater housing system for a 16mm Bolex through Brooklyn and Manhattan (via subways) and got scolded CONSTANTLY for making flip books out of science texts, drawing instead of taking notes, and recreating television sets in her desk (I'm not even exaggerating- ask my mom. It was the set of Moonlighting and I was about eight years old) I can relate to the love of art and movies. EVEN MORE, as someone who went back to school at the age of 25 for astrophysics because I fell in love with the images coming back from Mars and Titan, I can relate to the love of science fiction and space exploration. I offer here his presentation at TED. If I can have even 1/3 of the filmmaking adventures he has had, I will die a happy girl. I would love to bring my love of science together with my love of films. (I'm working on it. And I've all the confidence in the world that I can.)
I will gladly fork over the cash to see anything James Cameron does. I think that his scientific background is WHY he makes good SciFi movies. (Did you know that the glowing bioluminescent plants in Avatar are based on very simple creatures found right here off the coast of SoCal? It's not SciFi, it's just science re-appropriated.)
"Curiosity. It's the most powerful thing you own" "The respect of your team is more important than all the laurels in the world." "Failure is an option. But fear is not." Seriously... I love this guy.
OH... and by the way. I twittered this and posted it on my facebook page, but I was lucky enough to have seen Avatar WITH James Cameron and to hear him talk about it with his production designers at the end. It is not a requirement for a director to know everything about the technology (s)he is using, but he DOES. It is pretty clear that his production designers DO respect him. Since I also geek out about film technology, I should add that I FINALLY got to see the 3D system they were talking about when I was in Cannes, which made me a happy girl.
(I love how they are all squatting off the edge of my soda cup. I wasn't sure if I was allowed to take photos so I James Bonded it...)