Team Building

PofE 030: How To Choose Your Team Like James Cameron


"Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work."

Vince Lombardi

 James Cameron is one of the most world-renowned producers in the film industry. With dozens of Academy Award nominations for his films, he has become very successful. He wasn’t always the successful filmmaker you see before you, however. In fact, when he wrote Terminator, he was living out of his car.

How did a truck driver who would pull off the road to work on his scripts go on to be the producer of such blockbusters as "Aliens", "Titanic",and "Avatar"? He learned at a very young age that he needed to choose a successful team. He has been able to guide his crew through the movie to see his vision, not taking any shortcuts around the process.

When he was working on "Avatar", he brought a dialect coach on set to help ensure the accents were as authentic as possible. He actually employed a dialect coach for "Avatar" for the course of two years to work with all the actors who were speaking. This kind of dedication enabled the movie to be what it was – a blockbuster hit.

There is a sense of authenticity in the movies James Cameron makes that other producers aren’t able to achieve. Documentary films have characterization. While "Titanic" was supposed to be a love story, he also used it as a documentary. He collected samples for scientists and even shot footage for one of his documentary films. Due to his desire for authenticity, he became one of only three people to have made the dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench located out in the Pacific Ocean.



Difficult actors have also played a role in James Cameron’s success. Cameron usually has an idea in his head about who he wants in what role. He doesn’t stop pursuing an actor because of their inability to speak a dialect or because they lack a certain skill. He will simply teach those things on set because he doesn’t want to settle for a different actor to play the role.

When Titanic was being filmed, Cameron had openly admitted that DiCaprio was constantly complaining about filming the water scenes. Cameron went out of his way to warm the water to ensure that it was as comfortable as possible for his lead actor.

James Cameron didn’t get into being a filmmaker as his first job. He took whatever he could get to be recognized. He started off making his first film in 1978. This landed him a job with New World Pictures where he was able to work as an art director, director and ultimately, producer.

Choosing your team is a lot like how James Cameron chooses his team. Go after what you want and don’t stop. Focus on ways to make your dream team happen, even if that means spending some money on training and experiences that will allow your team to grow into what you want them to be. If you have to mold them, it will only make them better and allow you to reach a higher level of success.

Principles of Execution Key Concepts:

  • Team Building
  • Team Activities
  • Team Training

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