How Star Wars Created James Cameron

The iconic filmmaker's career began at Hollywood's Chinese Theatre in summer 1977.

The world-building and spacecraft from Star Wars (1977) inspired a then-truck driver James Cameron to make a short film with his friends.

It was Memorial Day weekend, 1977 — just days after a dejected George Lucas had been startled to find his sure-to-be-flop Star Wars playing across the street from the diner where he was eating a burger.


In a matter of hours, Star Wars was already breaking records in some (limited) theaters across the country. But the world's next superstar filmmaker lived just 30 miles away, in the small town of Brea, California.


James Cameron was a 22-year-old truck driver for the local school district, as told in the premiere episode of BLOCKBUSTER: THE STORY OF JAMES CAMERON — the award-winning "biopic podcast" series, starring The Walking Dead's Ross Marquand, from filmmaker and journalist Matt Schrader.



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.


While the credits rolled and the theater cheered at the breakthrough spectacle of Star Wars, James Cameron told friend Randy Frakes the film had stolen "all their ideas" before they could make them themselves.


As they left the theater, James vowed he'd make Xenogenesis, a script he and Randy had been writing that would employ similar visual styles of George Lucas' Death Star.


In the next few months, James, Randy and friend Bill Wisher raised money from some dentists to create a short film that would be their "calling card." It employed a handful of then-innovative techniques, but failed to land them the jobs they'd hoped it would.


Instead, James brought the film to an interview at New World Pictures, a small studio that made low-budget "B-movies," owned by producer Roger Corman. Some of the crew sat in to watch Xenogenesis, and were blown away by the detail.


James was hired on the spot to work in New World Pictures' prop department, where he began to impress his supervisors, as well as Roger Corman himself.


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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