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.
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.
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.