Avatar Sequels: Producer Jon Landau Talks Water Work And Live-Action Shooting

Avatar Sequels: Producer Jon Landau Talks Water Work And Live-Action Shooting

By James White Posted 11 days ago

Doing the press rounds for Alita: Battle Angel, producer and longtime James Cameron collaborator Jon Landau has naturally been asked about the Avatar sequels he and Cameron have been labouring to produce. And talking at a Q&A screening for Alita hosted by Collider, Landau mentioned that the first two sequels’ live-action shoots are about to begin.

“We have completed our principal capture on Avatar 2, three, and part of four,” Landau clarifies. “We’re going to do our live-action filming in New Zealand in the spring of this year.” He also mentions the recent announcement of Edie Falco to play the head of the Resources Development Administration, the human corporation that served as the big bad in the original and will be back causing problems in the sequels. “In typical Jim Cameron fashion he finds this powerful woman to play what could be very easily a male role if people were just to read the script.”

Landau also addressed the fact that it has taken years of work to bring the films to life even before the cameras roll, partly because Cameron wanted to get the foundation right first. “That’s what we waited for. We needed to have all the scripts done before we embarked on production. We needed to understand where the characters were going. Not only did we need to understand it, our cast needed to understand it. Our cast playing these roles needed to understand decisions they were making in movies two and three, how it would affect them in movie four. Because if they didn’t, they might not bring the same thing to it. So we waited to complete all four scripts before we ever embarked on doing the project.”

And returning to the tricky performance capture element, Landau revealed that the process included more of a physical side than ever before, due to some of the characters in the sequels being part of water-dwelling clans. “We built a water tank that was 500,000 gallons of water, and we are doing performance-capture under the water, on the surface of the water, and above the water,” Landau explains. “We trained our cast to free-breath-hold, because in the sequences they have to just be swimming, they can’t be on scuba, and they have to be able to do long takes. So we had a gentleman named Kirk Krack come in and train everybody that needed to be underwater how to go underwater and how to hold their breath.”

Turns out, one of the actors in particular was a star pupil, and it’s someone with a little experience of working with both Cameron and water. “Kate Winslet had to train in this and she got up to a static breath hold of just about seven minutes. It’s amazing, it’s mind over matter. You see Kate going underwater and she just felt so comfortable. There was one day, we have a tank where she was just rehearsing and testing and we have some windows into it, and I go in there and she’s just walking on the bottom of the tank] left and right, left and right, left and right, then she sees me in the window and she just waves. I couldn’t believe it!” You can [check out the full Q&A video right here.

Avatar 2 is scheduled to arrive on 18 December next year. Find out lots more about the sequels here.

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