Avatar: The Way of Water producer Jon Landau reveals what he and James Cameron were looking for when building the writers’ room to tackle the Avatar sequel scripts. Cameron created the lore and planned out the future installments of Avatar, but to help him write the scripts for all four sequels, he put together a writers’ room. Traditionally used in television, this tactic was a unique filmmaking decision, especially because Cameron already knew where he wanted the Avatar story to go.
Landau recently spoke exclusively with Screen Rant about Avatar: The Way of Water, now that the film is available digitally. He explained why they wanted the writers’ room to focus on characters and character arcs. Landau also discussed how the writers’ room works with the design team to inspire each other. Check out Landau’s full quote below:
Jon Landau: What we were looking for in the writers was character development and character stories that would come out of 1,500 pages of story notes that Jim had created already that touched on family and touched on Kiri, Spider, and Quaritch. It was pulling those stories out. At the same time, we did the writers room, we hired our design team, and they worked independently, but together.
The writers would come up and see some of the inspirations of the early art, or an idea would come out of the writers room, we’d let the art department know, and a week later, there’d be a drawing of that. The writers could see how that played out. So there was this really organic process.
How The Writers’ Room Can Enhance James Cameron’s Avatar Vision
With over 1,500 pages of story notes, Cameron clearly wasn’t looking for pitches regarding the story. However, by bringing in a group of writers with different backgrounds and experiences, he can hear new perspectives that can open unexpected doors, especially for the characters. Avatar: The Way of Water introduced a ton of new characters, including the Sully children, Spider, and the Metkayina. The sequels will continue to follow the Sully children and Spider while introducing even more characters.
Staying true to each character’s voice and their arcs, both individually and as a group, would be a challenge for one person. While Cameron has had a vision for Avatar that he has been working on for a long time, new voices can elevate the story by asking questions and reading his research from a different point of view. Pandora is a rich world full of unexplored biomes with different Na’vi and new Sky People trying to build a home.
While the Sully family is at the center of the Avatar story, Pandora is a key star as well, with new Na’vi introduced in each installment. The collaboration between the design team and the writers also brings out a new aspect of storytelling, with concepts brought to life while they are still being crafted. Given the massive success of Avatar: The Way of Water, this method clearly works and could be a key component to the continued growth of Avatar.
Avatar: The Way of Water is now available on digital.