Q & A with James Cameron on Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away
Press release Way to Blue
From the big top to the big screen, Academy Award®-nominated director Andrew Adamson and visionary filmmaker James Cameron invite audiences on an all-new 3D adventure — Cirque du Soleil Worlds Away. Two young people journey through the astonishing and dreamlike worlds of Cirque du Soleil to find each other as audiences experience the immersive 3D technology that allows them to leap, soar, swim and dance with the performers.
Unique in scope, this immersive experience melds acts from six live Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas — "O," KÀ, Mystère, Viva ELVIS, Zumanity and The Beatles LOVE — into a circus love story produced, written and directed by Academy Award® nominee Andrew Adamson (Shrek, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe). The film stars Cirque du Soleil strap aerialists Igor Zaripov (The Aerialist) and former artist Erica Linz (Mia) as the young couple.
For Cameron, Cirque du Soleil Worlds Away “was a dream come true.
I had actually been trying to talk to the Cirque people for years saying, “Why aren’t we doing your shows in 3D?” And I finally met with Danielle when I was finishing Avatar and I said, “We could be doing this with your shows”. And when he started to see the possibility of what 3D could really be then we got serious.
How does 3D enhance the spectacle?
The Cirque du Soleil shows are so gorgeous, so colourful, so dreamlike – the 3D just puts you right in the show in a way that I believe is even better than sitting in the audience. You sit in the audience and you see it from one perspective but you go in with the 3D camera and you get in amongst the performers and you get into those high angles where you really see the jeopardy of those aerial acts, how far above the ground they are and you can feel that sense of vertigo. You appreciate the performance so much more.
How did you direct a director, Andrew Adamson, for this film?
Andrew is strongly visual, understands the visual effects which are used to create the wrap-around story but also had a great sensibility about what this is – this is a circus in a dream. You’re kind of in a dream-state when you watch a Cirque du Soleil show anyway, now you’re being asked to go a journey between these circus tents if you will in this dream-like state. So he approached it as art, as beauty, as a dream-like enigma because ultimately it’s not about that story, it’s about the design and the characters and all of the unanswered questions. There are so many things in Cirque du Soleil shows that are never answered for you – it forces your imagination to kick into gear.
How did you film the live show in a different way?
The challenge was that a lot of the power of the Cirque shows is that they’re performed live so there’s always the possibly that the performer might fail. I don’t think people want that to happen but they celebrate it when it doesn’t because it’s a live show, it’s really happening right in front of them. So we have to do something different with a film and the 3D provides a level of physical presence as if you’re really there, it kind of convinces the brain at a subconscious level that it’s really happening right in front of you. And it also makes you feel as if you’re right there with the performers, you see the power of the athleticism in their performance and the grace and the beauty, it all just feels enhanced.
How did you select amongst the arsenal of 3D camera equipment?
We had a huge arsenal of camera equipment coming off a number of movies, Avatar among them but also coming off a lot of the live sports events that we’ve been shooting so the question was, looking at that arsenal, what’s going to work for these shows. Really it was a little bit like a concert film which we had done because there’s a live audience while we’re shooting parts of it and we have to have the cameras be unobtrusive and yet we also had the opportunity to go in and restage parts of the act without the audience there and get the camera right in close to the performance, so it was a little bit like shooting a movie. So we knew we had to have tools that were like the long-lens camera and cranes that we would use for a concert film. We’d also get in there with the steady-cam, dolly and so on – a mix of the entire tool set that Cameron Pace Group has available. It was the first time we ever put together all of those pieces on one project.
Was there extra pressure put on the performers?
All the Cirque performers are actors, they’re performers, they’re show people so I don’t think it was tough for them – they understood there was a lot of pressure on them because they were elected out of not just the troop of their shows but all the troops of the different shows to represent Cirque du Soleil in this film. They worked really hard, they tried really hard but that’s what they do every day – that’s what these people do every day. Erica in her day job is up spinning around 50 feet above the floor at high velocity, being held there by someone with just one hand so I think they know how to deal with pressure.
Cirque du Soleil Worlds Away 3D (rated G) opens in Cinemas in Digital 3D and 2D in