Meeting The Producer Of Avatar


So last night I had the good fortune to go hear Jon Landau speak at a local college. I knew he was the producer of Avatar, but that was about it. Little did I know how many successful projects he's been a part of. He spoke on ethics in the film industry and how difficult it can be to make the right decision when money is on the line. I was quite impressed with both his ability and humility. I know this isn't a tutorial and it might be a little random, but I just figured I'd share a few points he made in his talk that stood out to me.

Jon Landau
Jon's Films

In addition to producing Avatar, Jon has also produced other successful movies such as Titanic, Dick Tracy, and "Honey, I Shrunk The Kids".

A Few Thoughts Worth Jotting Down

(thanks to Won Novalis for sending me his notes)

Jon told a story from when he was younger working on a film and said that he ran into a situation where he wasn't sure if his team was going to be able to meet a deadline with the workload they had stacked up. Sitting down in a meeting with that film's producer, he began to explain the situation and his fear of not completing in time. The response was quick and to the point. "I'm not paying you to tell me about problems, I'm paying you to fix them."... end of meeting. They went on to work late into the evenings and they met their deadline. He stated that meeting and those words come to mind often any time he's in a bind.

When asked by an audience member how to become a better storyteller/writer, he replied by telling how James Cameron started. When James first wanted to create a movie, he went out and watched the most successful movies of that time. He looked for key things in each film that he thought caused it to be successful: themes, relatable characters, breathtaking visual effects, etc... He then put together a chart to see which elements he appreciated/admired the most and he uses that generated outcome as a framework for his work.

A Few Quotes Jon Said

"Science fiction creates metaphors for reflection of current times."

"In order to truly be successful, it's important that you do not be afraid. Don't just base your choices on past experiences, whether they be failures or successes. You CANNOT rest on past successes. After creating Titanic, the largest grossing film ever created, I couldn't just rely on that success to carry me... as a result, Avatar is now the largest grossing film ever created."

"As a filmmaker it is not my job to preach, but to entertain. Yet I try to weave in meanings that will cause the viewer to think about their own lives."

"I can't write, I can't direct, I certainly can't act... therefore I produce! My job as a producer is to hire people who do their job better then I could."

"Be a part of the innovation that leads the wave. Don't wait for technology to catch up to you or you'll end up sliding down the back side of that wave. If you choose to be a part of it happening, you can ride on top."

"Others had done motion capturing before, but with Avatar, we threw one letter in front and that's what made it successful. E-motion capturing."

"Just like Jake Sully, have a strong heart! Courageous, but vulnerable. Fearless, yet willing to learn. His glass was empty and ready to be filled, is yours?"

Related Posts
  • Photography
    Behind the Scenes: Interview With Sarah SilverPreview
    A behind the scenes look and interview with Sarah Silver during her recent photo shoot with the Stephen Petronio Dance Company.Read More…
  • Business
    The Farmville Guide to Productivity Gamification6 preview dont break the chain productivity
    FarmVille might only be a video game, but it somehow makes people extremely productive. They'll even set alarms in the middle of the night to check their farms and plant new crops. What's FarmVille's secret to making its users so "productive"? Could you use that secret to become more productive?Read More…
  • Music & Audio
    Sound Design
    Interview with Echoic Sound Designers Dave and Tom400x277
    I had the opportunity to chat with Tom Gilbert and David Johnston of Bristol sound design studio Echoic, who collaborated with Syndrome Studio to create the opening title and ident for Pause Fest 2014. Echoic are based in Bristol, and have an eclectic style that combines inventive processes and unusual instruments with a focus on collaboration between visual and sound design.Read More…
  • Photography
    Shooting Multiple Looks on a Lifestyle Location ShootDoublelocation rt prelg
    I recently went up to the James River, Virginia to do a location shoot with Ryan, one of the models I'm working with as I pursue my commercial vision. Since we're both looking to add more lifestyle to our arsenal, and I was looking for a location shoot anyway, it was a win-win. In this tutorial, I'm going to look at what lifestyle actually is, the preproduction that went into the shoot, and how I used the location on the day to get multiple looks, as well as the many decisions that require making on the fly on a shoot like this.Read More…
  • Photography
    World Photography Day at Phototuts+Wpd previewpc prelg
    On this day in 1839, the French Government announced the invention of photography as a "free gift to the world." The daguerreotype marked the beginning of the history of our craft. Today, we'll celebrate World Photography Day with a look at our favorite photographers, tips, tricks, gear and images!Read More…
  • 3D & Motion Graphics
    Interview With Tim Matney About His Work as a Matte PainterAetuts retina tim matney
    Tim Matney is an experienced visual effects artist, specializing in digital matte painting, whose work has appeared in many feature films, TV shows, national commercials and games. He began his career as a 3D Generalist working in computer games in the late 90's, then honed his skills as a modeller and texture artist on feature films, before discovering matte painting on the job and his affinity for it. He currently lives in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia, operating as a remote freelance artist for studios in New York City and Los Angeles.Read More…