One of the most interesting recent developments in film and education is that many famous filmmakers are giving Masterclasses. The latest to do it is James Cameron. He takes us through all 40 years of his career, explaining set pieces, budgets, inspiration, and process. 

The Masterclass itself is an intimate look at his creative process and tricks of the trade that he’s learned in his career. He’s teaching you his techniques and showing you his approach to epic storytelling.

And we get to hear some fun stories about Hollywood. 

One of the fun things Cameron spends his time talking about is his set-pieces. He talks about what makes them great and even talks about how he fits them into his films.

Cameron says, “There are a lot of rules and advisories about why you put things in movies, and that they should all serve a purpose. Except, they don’t. Sometimes it should just be something you want to see as a filmmaker… and sometimes the only way to see it is to show it.”

I think this is great advice. Sometimes things are just cool and build what you've promised the audience, even if they don't move the plot forward. 

To make his point, Cameron uses a scene from Avatar that got some studio notes.

The scene in question is when Jake Sully learns to fly a Mountain Banshee. They take the Banshee out into the world and soar all over. Cameron said that someone at the studio wanted him to cut it because they felt like it didn’t add anything to the plot.

But Cameron told them he didn't care, he liked it and thought it should stay. As Cameron puts it, “If I want to see it, there are lots of people who are going to want to see it.”

Cameron finished with, “And they want to see it for itself, not because of a purpose. The purpose is to be present; to be in that world.”

So take a lesson from the master. If it looks cool and shows the audience something, leave it in there. 

Have you watched the Cameron Masterclass? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.