James Cameron on the Super/Natural series: I’m working on concepts similar to Avatar in some ways.

James Cameron on the Super/Natural series: I’m working on concepts similar to Avatar in some ways.

James Cameron, the six-part Super/Natural television series, which features Benedict Cumberbatch as the narrator, immerses viewers in the brains of animals.

James Cameron, the six-part Super/Natural television series, which features Benedict Cumberbatch as the narrator
James Cameron, the six-part Super/Natural television series, which features Benedict Cumberbatch as the narrator

James Cameron picked up the camera to helm massive and culturally significant movies like Titanic, The Terminator, and Aliens, the director claims he would spend his time in his native Canada watching nature via a pair of binoculars.

His films, notably the ongoing Avatar franchise, were inspired by his fascination as a young “natural history scientist.” Cameron had the chance to explore the same issue in real life while working as executive producer of the Disney+ documentary series Super/Natural.

The Oscar winner said he immediately agreed to work on Super/Natural when National Geographic reached out to him. In the past, Cameron has collaborated with the network on a number of natural history and documentary series such as Deepsea Challenge 3D and season two of Years of Living Dangerously.

“A series like this is my attempt to go back to those wonderful memories as a kid in nature. Now other people get to go out into the field and I sit back in the editing room and send them out to capture all the images because I can’t be everywhere at once. But I’m very envious of where they get to go and what they get to do.

“Then National Geographic told us about this one, which they were developing with the UK-based company Plimsoll Productions, I said that’s the one I want to do. This is the one that excites me. And in a way, it’s working out those same ideas that I’m working out fictionally in the Avatar films,” the acclaimed director told PTI in a roundtable interview.

Born in the riverside town of Kapuskasing in Ontario, Canada, Cameron said it was not a single incident that attracted him towards flora and fauna.

“I can remember many vivid incidents as a kid. I lived in a suburban neighbourhood in Canada. But two blocks away, the woods started and they went for sort of 20 or 30 miles.” As a kid, the director said he spent most of his time out in nature.

“I was catching everything from bugs to butterflies, frogs, snakes. I would try to see everything I could see with binoculars. Following bird behaviour and all that,” he added.

Also an environmentalist and explorer, Cameron said nature “always blew my mind”.

“I think most children feel a connection to nature and are curious. You put that together, and you basically have a natural history scientist. And then, we outgrow that as we get older,” the 68-year-old storyteller said.

Also backed by Cameron’s Earthship Productions, Super/Natural utilises latest scientific innovations and leading-edge filmmaking technology to reveal the secret powers and super-senses of the world’s most extraordinary animals, inviting viewers to see and hear beyond normal human perception to experience the natural world as a specific species does.

According to the director, there is a “higher purpose” to any natural history show. The idea is to keep the imagery so astonishing that a few facts are absorbed by the viewers as a result, he added.

“Our purpose is not just to entertain but absolutely to teach and to show the wonder, majesty, complexity of nature. Because as a civilisation, we have to modify our behaviour. A lot of these places that our photographic teams were going into are places that are under stress from all kinds of things.

“So we’re going to pull out every trick we know as storytellers to try to get that engagement. It’s all about engendering that respect and in a sense between the lines always challenging the audience to respect nature and help preserve it and conserve it,” Cameron said.

The filmmaker said the six-episode series, narrated by Hollywood star Benedict Cumberbatch, takes the audience into the minds of animals.

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