James Cameron says the inspiration and “imagery” for some of his biggest films has come to him in his dreams.
The Hollywood director said humans were always “telling ourselves stories” at night and that the job of a screenwriter was finding a way to “formalise” those stories.
It comes ahead of the release of Avatar: The Way Of Water, the highly anticipated sequel to Cameron’s 2009 sci-fi epic.
Asked on The One Show about finding inspiration in dreams, he said: “(yes), Terminator, dreams, Avatar… I just think the dreams are my own private streaming service that runs every night for free.
“I guess I do a lot of work in my dreams and I see a lot of imagery, sometimes they get up and write it down sometimes.
“With some of the stuff for Avatar when I was in college, I jumped up and did paintings… so this has been going on for a while, right.”
The Way Of Water will see the return of characters Jake Sully and Neytiri, played by Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana respectively, as well as their new family.
Previously released trailers showed underwater scenes featuring fantastic creatures resembling colourful jellyfish, and large, horned whales.
“I’ve always had dreams of being underwater with amazing animals swimming around and that sort of thing, so it’s just kind of working all that subconscious imagery out,” Cameron told The One Show.
“I think we all are screenwriters in our heads every night. We’re all telling ourselves stories, one part of our brain puts on a show for the other part of the brain.
“I think screenwriters just figure out a way to formalise that and get it out onto the paper.”
Asked whether the wait for the third Avatar film would be another 13 years long, he added: “Hopefully not.”
He added that all footage for the film had been captured but suggested that the post-production may take around two years.
It comes as Cameron and the cast of his Avatar sequel have begun their global press tour with a photocall in central London.
Saldana, Kate Winslet and Sigourney Weaver were among the stars who posed for pictures on the blue carpet on Sunday.
Avatar: The Way Of Water is due for release in cinemas on December 16.
The world premiere will take place on Tuesday December 6 in London’s Leicester Square.