Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away star Erica Linz knew she was in a movie produced by James Cameron. She just didn't know who James Cameron was.
''I was having my first fitting for the film and a bunch of people were there and he introduced himself as Jim,'' the former professional gymnast and performer from the stage show Ka says with an embarrassed chuckle.
''I was really nervous and talked to this friendly Jim guy for ages and then I asked him what department he worked in and if he'd be around for filming and he said 'I'll be in and out.' I said, 'But you have to be here because you are the friendly guy who makes me comfortable,' '' she says.
''An hour later I found out he was Jim Cameron and I thought I was going to be fired!''
Oscar-nominated Kiwi director Andrew Adamson (Shrek, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) collaborated with the Avatar and Titanic filmmaker using the Cameron/Pace Group's Fusion 3D camera system. In the film, Mia (Linz) is looking to escape her life and falls in love at first sight with an aerialist (Igor Zaripov). When he slips and falls through the circus ring into another world, he takes her with him and the story allows them to visit the worlds of all seven shows based in Las Vegas at the time: O, Ka, Mystere, Viva Elvis, Criss Angel Believe, Zumanity and The Beatles Love.
We are sitting backstage at the ''O'' theatre inside the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas and the petite-looking Linz confides, ''the biggest challenge was translating the skills you use in a stage performance - where the back row is about a hundred feet away from the stage - to suddenly your face is 35 feet tall on a movie screen and you have the clarity of James Cameron's 3D, so you don't need to mime any more.''
Executive producer Jacques Methe reveals Cameron was so hands-on, ''he even operated cameras himself, jumping into the pool with the underwater camera for one part and then filming from top of the 'wheel of death' in Ka!''
Methe, who heads up Cirque du Soleil's TV and film division, insists the film should not be seen as replacing the experience of seeing a live show.
''We thought 3D was the way to give a movie audience something as close as possible to a live experience,'' he says.
''But, also, we could trade up and take them to places they wouldn't be able to go if they came to see the live show.''
Jenny Cooney Carrillo travelled to Las Vegas courtesy of Paramount Pictures.
CIRQUE DU SOLEIL: WORLDS AWAY
GENRE Circus fantasy.
CRITICAL BUZZ The 3D experiment fetched a dismal $US12 million box-office take.
STARS Erica Linz, Igor Zaripov.
DIRECTOR Andrew Adamson.