5 Ways James Cameron’s Film "Xenogenesis" Foreshadowed Future Brilliance

After seeing Star Wars with friend Randy Frakes, Cameron co-directed a film intended to be their "calling card." It kickstarted an illustrious career.

Xenogenesis, co-directed by a then-college dropout James Cameron and his friend Randy Frakes, hinted at themes for many future films.

James Cameron's first thoughts after seeing Star Wars in summer 1977 were that George Lucas had taken all his ideas. Never mind that was logistically nearly impossible.


The moment, which is featured in the premiere episode of BLOCKBUSTER: THE STORY OF JAMES CAMERON starring The Walking Dead's Ross Marquand, led to Cameron's first step in his filmmaking career: Actually making a film.


Spilling out of the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, Cameron told friend Randy Frakes it was time to start filming, or the movie revolution would pass them by.


A script they'd been co-writing together, Xenogenesis, would become their first short film, and highlight many of the ideas that James would touch on later in his life.



You can subscribe and listen to BLOCKBUSTER free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, and all other platforms. BLOCKBUSTER is winner of Adweek's Creative Podcast of the Year, and earned two Webby Honorees and NYF Radio Awards, including for Best Podcast Miniseries.


1. Robots and humans living together


This would become a major theme of future films, including The Terminator. You can see the robotic skeleton in the hand-painted illustration that begins the film.


2. The digital technological future of text

Even in the opening title of Xenogenesis, the digital future is hinted at by the font. This would foreshadow the revolutionary overlays used in the effects for The Terminator and Aliens.


3. The Female Heroine

In Xenogenesis, the male star, Cameron's friend Bill Wisher, is rescued by a female lead driving a large robot, similar to the loader used in Aliens, which leads us to #4...


4. The Loader

In Aliens, Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley character takes control of a robotic loader that allows her to harness a much bigger and more powerful machine to accomplish her goal of defeating the enemy. In Xenogenesis, that enemy is a giant, tank-like machine trying to eliminate Bill Wisher's character from the facility.


5. A Blue Alien Species??

James Cameron's hand-painted artwork at the start of the film suggests the beginnings of what he would create decades later in Avatar.


Watch Xenogenesis below on YouTube.

You can subscribe and listen to BLOCKBUSTER free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, as well as all other platforms. BLOCKBUSTER is winner of Adweek's Creative Podcast of the Year, and earned two Webby Honorees and NYF Radio Awards, including for Best Miniseries.


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