Producer Jon Landau discusses career successes

Omar Gamboa

Academy Award-winning film producer Jon Landau said storytelling has been the most important part in making “Titanic” and “Avatar,” the two highest-grossing films of all time.

Landau gave an in-depth perspective of both films, as well as other successes as a producer, at the Union Ballroom on Thursday evening.

Landau, a frequent collaborator with film director James Cameron, said while he cannot act or direct, his job encompasses everything necessary in the making of a film, which he said is like a “start-up company.”

Despite the mainstream financial successes of some of his films, Landau said their success was due to their ability to artistically relate to the audience and innovatively incorporate the technology used.

“‘Titanic’ was about being able to rise from a desperate situation and succeed,” Landau said. “In ‘Avatar,’ it’s the idea of ‘I see you.’ That the inside of us is more than just the outside.”

He said many filmmakers incorporate unnecessary technology in their films at the cost of degenerating the story.

Landau said many of his personal successes came from his ability to voice his opinions and articulate them into films. He said in the past the people he surrounded himself with during production of films positively taught him lessons for later productions.

Landau said after co-producing “Dick Tracy” with Warren Beatty, Beatty told him his greatest quality as a producer was that he dreamt of the film every night.

“Whatever your fields are, go out and dream,” Landau said. “And remember though — when you dream, it’s a leap of faith. When you innovate, it’s a leap of faith. Whenever a leap of faith is involved, failure has to be an option but fear cannot be.”

The Distinguished Speakers Committee hosted the event, part of a line of other famous speakers including Maya Angelou and Frank Abagnale Jr.

Government senior and first-year member of the committee Adriana Perez said the event was a great start for the year.

“I think an event like this helps draw in different crowds,” Perez said. “It’s cool to see the man behind the scenes. It gives the untold story.”

Journalism professor Regina Lawrence said that she was surprised to see Landau.

“I think films are the master narratives of our culture,” Lawrence said. “As a teacher, I was pleased to see how strongly Landau communicated his compelling lessons in the business to the audience.”

Printed on Friday, October 21, 2011 as: Landeau discusses success as producer