"After Avatar, I want to do something a lot smaller," Cameron said Thursday.
On the director's sonar is The Dive, a true story about the romance between controversial Cuban free diver Francisco "Pipin" Ferreras and Frenchwoman Audrey Mestre. Under his guidance, Mestre became a free diver who broke several world records but died in 2002 while competing. (Free-diving competitors must hold their breath for long periods of time while deep under water.)
"It's a drama, a love story," Cameron said. "This will require underwater photography, which will look gorgeous in 3-D."
When dramatic 3-D is achieved, Cameron believes it could bring about "the kind of uncomfortable feeling that people like in a movie theater; they feel like they are being challenged. It can actually be quite powerful.
"I think (3-D for drama) is the big overlooked area (now) because the economics don't really drive that direction."
Cameron added that action and computer animation will likely drive the 3-D market for a while, but with the infrastructure gains on the way, he expects that will change.
"The visual aesthetic of doing dramatic stuff in 3-D is very simple," he said. "Just don't remind people that they are watching a 3-D movie. That will take them out of the experience."
Ferreras was a central figure in a 2001 Imax documentary, "Ocean Men: Extreme Dive."
Avatar is scheduled to open Dec. 18, 2009.