James Cameron sets up to film a Baining Fire Dance

Robert Weber, James Cameron, Emmanuel Narokobi

Over the weekend Robert Weber and I had the opportunity of being the only PNG media team to have had an exclusive interview with Avatar Director James Cameron. I’ve covered the reasons and some aspects of the meaning for his passing through PNG here and National Geographic has an in depth micro site on his Undersea Exploration adventure here.

We touched down in Tokua airport on Friday with the plan to stay till Monday morning so that we had the whole weekend to fit in a time with him and his schedule. So Friday afternoon we headed out to Rapopo Platation Resort to meet Cameron’s Expedition Manager, Rob McCallum.

We had secured our break through Rob, who came to PNG when he was 4 years old and learnt pidgin in the playground. Rob has 10 years experience with deep sea work and 20 years with dive expeditions and expeditions to places like Antarctica. After growing up in PNG and then leaving he returned later to PNG working for UNDP with the Department of Environment and Conservation. So it’s only been in the last 8 years that he has come to doing work with James Cameron.

Rait Man, Rob McCallum

After Rob had emailed us telling us that we had secured the interview, you can imagine my surprise when I called him and he started speaking pidgin to me. My immediate reaction was, has James Cameron taught his staff pidgin?  But as revealed later he was yet another person in the world that had been touched by the natural environment and beauty of our country. As Rob noted to me in our discussions and especially about his experience with the sea, it was amazing to him how little we knew about the sea. He added that ‘our pool of knowledge is so small, we hardly know the questions to ask, let alone the answers. Everytime we dive, we learn’.

Rob’s ideals certainly fit in well with Cameron’s interests and you can see why their paths have crossed. I asked him what it was like working with Cameron and his reply was that ‘…he is an extraordinary individual;  one driven to perfection in everything he does.  its not just about intelligence and ability, its also about passion.   Jim is not motivated by the normal accoutrements of success;  house, jets, cars etc;  he is motivated by science and by the opportunity to make a contribution to our pool of knowledge…’

So here lay the passion of one man who had brought us all to Rabaul. Back to Rapopo now and we finally meet Rob, but instead of discussing a time and place for the interview with Cameron, the man himself turns up to our little discussion at the Rapopo Restaurant. After a brief introduction Cameron asks us if we want to join him on a trip to watch a Baining Fire Dance. Well uhhmm yeahh…Weber and I hopped into a Hilux with Cameron and as we drove out on our 40 minute drive to Baining so began the  filming of our interview with Cameron. (Unfortunately our trailer of the interview will be ready later this week,  and so I’ll save those details for when you actually watch the trailer)

When we got to Baining, Cameron’s film crew was already there setting up to film the dance. It was yet another amazing experience watching Cameron in his element as he prepared for filming the famous fire dance. This footage will be a part of his documentary on the whole expedition.
More to come yet on our weekend with Cameron. You can see more pictures of that afternoon on our facebook page here.