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James Cameron’s ‘Xenogenesis’: Watch the Lo-Fi, Futuristic 1978 Short Film That Gave Him His Start

Before he was the king of the world, Cameron was an aspiring filmmaker like any other.

Before he was working with hundred-million-dollar budgets — hell, before he was even making that “Piranha” sequel — James Cameron was an aspiring filmmaker like any other. He first announced himself to the world with 1978’s “Xenogenesis,” a 12-minute short made in 1978. If you’re curious where the king of the world got his start, watch the shoestring sci-fi project below.

READ MORE: Wes Anderson’s ‘Bottle Rocket’ Short Film: Watch the 13 Minute Clip That Launched His Career

Beginning with a series of illustrations set to narrated voiceover, the film bills itself as “man’s ultimate adventure.” William Wisher stars as a passenger aboard a sentient spacecraft looking for a suitable environment to start anew — imagine a shoestring version of the prologue from “Prometheus.” Long before he reaches this new beginning, the spacefarer encounters a rather large robot whose functionality appears to extend well beyond maintenance and upkeep. This results in the only outcome possible for a movie like “Xenogenesis”: a bout of robo-battle.

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Cameron was later hired as a model-maker by Roger Corman, the king of economical genre pictures; working at the studio could only have helped the future “Aliens,” “Titanic” and “Avatar” director learn to maximize his resources. Wisher, meanwhile, would go on to co-write “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” with Cameron and have cameos in several of his films.

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