Tuesday, February 23, 2010

AVATAR, the NRDC, and Team Marine

Team Marine of Santa Monica High was invited to attend the NRDC fundraiser at FOX studios last night. The evening included 40 minutes of selected scenes from AVATAR, followed by a live discussion with Director James Cameron and Elvis Mitchell of KCRW's show The Treatment. What a night!

Devany, Eileen, Jacob and Raf taking in AVATAR with their Roy Orbison 3D glasses.
TM met James Cameron before the movie. I have to say that last night taught me about remaining open minded in my judgements of other people. I knew of J.C.'s reputation as a tyrannical movie director, inventor, ego-maniac, film genius but what I didn't know was that I would be nodding along to about 95% of what he was saying during his talk. I didn't expect to feel a connection with him because of our joint love, and fascination with the ocean. I didn't expect to feel the sense of hope, relief and resonance at the end of the night that I floated on down Pico Blvd. all the way home, and into this morning.

Listening to him reminded me of the scientific principle that for "every action there is an opposite and equal reaction." Newton didn't mean this in metaphysical terms, but I couldn't help interpreting his Law of Motion in this way. If we are experiencing an environmental crisis on our planet that targets all of our major eco-systems then a counter to the destruction could be an environmental action film that is the highest grossing movie of all time, directed by Hollywood's most notorious guy.....feel free to agree, or disagree. Remember I said an answer, not "the" answer.
Team Marine with the Directors of the Oscar Nominated Documentary The Cove. I hope that The Cove wins this year. It is a daring account of how 25,000 dolphins are slaughtered annually in Japan.
I got "Star Struck" when Frances Beinecke, President of the NRDC took the stage after the movie and discussion to say a few words. She said, "The oceans are imperiled...the NRDC has a strategy to address that." Team Marine is pictured with her above.
Actress Amy Smart, (in the white sweater), is a long time supporter of Heal the Bay. Volunteering since High School, she now sits on their Board of Directors. Amy graciously talked to us for a few minutes after the event.
And lastly, but certainly not least, (especially for Mel :D ) we got to meet Actor Brandon Frazier. Mel, need I say more?

So why did I rethink my assumptions about James Cameron? A few examples follow below:

- He realized that using Avatar to speak about environmental awareness was not, "An opportunity, it was a responsibility."

- J.C. is a self-proclaimed "nature geek" who has spent 3,000 plus hours Scuba Diving. But it was Deep Sea Exploration that reformed his "Diva-Director" nature and taught him how to communicate with his staff in a respectful and focused way....in other words, the ocean schooled him.

- He believes that we suffer from, "Nature Deficit Disorder"

- After asking himself, "What am I here to do with my little packet of energy?" (which took him a long time to discover.) He believes that using the venue of entertainment to elicit an emotional response in people to stand up for the environment is his true calling. That's so cool.