James Cameron

Canadian film director, film producer, deep-sea explorer, screenwriter, and editor James Cameron was born August 16, 1954. He found success with the science-fiction hit The Terminator (1984). He was then hired to write & direct Aliens (1986) and followed this up withThe Abyss (1989). He found further critical acclaim for his use of special effects in the action packed blockbuster Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). After his film True Lies(1994) Cameron took on his biggest film at the time Titanic (1997) which won the Academy Award for Best Picture and him the Academy Award for Best Director and Film Editing. AfterTitanic, Cameron began the science-fiction epic Avatar (2009), for which he was nominated for Best Director and Film Editing again. Cameron also spent several years creating many documentary films (specifically underwater documentaries) and co-developed the digital 3D Fusion Camera System. Described by a biographer as part-scientist and part-artist, Cameron has also contributed to underwater filming and remote vehicle technologies. On March 26, 2012, Cameron reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest part of the ocean, in the Deep sea Challenger submersible. He is the first person to do this in a solo descent, and is only the third person to do so ever. He has been nominated for six Academy Awards overall and won three for Titanic. In total, Cameron’s directorial efforts have grossed approximately US$2 billion in North America and US$6 billion worldwide. Cameron’s Titanic and Avatar are the two highest-grossing films of all time at $2.19 billion and $2.78 billion respectively and in March 2011 he was named Hollywood’s top earner by Vanity Fair, with estimated 2010 earnings of $257 million

His first film was called Xenogenesis (1978) . In 1979 he worked as production assistant on a film called Rock and Roll High School. Cameron started working as a miniature-model maker at Roger Corman Studios. He then found employment as an art director in the sci-fi movie Battle Beyond the Stars (1980). He did special effects work design and direction on John Carpenter’s Escape from New York (1981), acted as production designer on Galaxy of Terror (1981), and consulted on the design of Android (1982). Cameron was the special effects director for Piranha II: The Spawning in 1981. The interior scenes were filmed in Italy while the underwater sequences were shot at Grand Cayman Island. However he was fired as Director after failing to get a close up of Carole Davis in her opening scene.  Instead Cameron stayed on location to assist in the shooting. Once in Rome, Ovidio took over the editing when Cameron was stricken with food poisoning. During his illness, he had a nightmare about an invincible robot hitman sent from the future to kill him, giving him the idea for The Terminator.

After completing a screenplay for The Terminator, Cameron decided to sell it so that he could direct the movie. However most Production Companies were unwilling to let an inexperienced director make the move. Eventually Hemdale Pictures, agreed to let him direct thanks to Gale Anne Hurd, who had started her own production company, Pacific Western Productions, and had previously worked with Cameron in Roger Corman’s companY. For the role of the Terminator, Cameron envisioned a man who was not exceptionally muscular, who could “blend into” a crowd. Lance Henriksen, who had starred in Piranha II: The Spawning, was considered for the title role, but when Arnold Schwarzenegger and Cameron first met over lunch to discuss Schwarzenegger playing the role of Kyle Reese, both came to the conclusion that the cyborgvillain would be the more compelling role for the Austrian bodybuilder; Henriksen got the smaller part of LAPD detective Hal Vukovich and the role of Kyle Reese went to Michael Biehn. In addition, Linda Hamilton first appeared in this film in her iconic role of Sarah Connor, and later married Cameron. It became a box office hit

During the early 1980s, Cameron wrote three screenplays simultaneously: The Terminator, Aliens, and the first draft of Rambo: First Blood Part II. While Cameron continued with The Terminator and Aliens, the sequel to Alien, the 1979 film by Ridley Scott. Cameron cast Sigourney Weaver in the iconic role of Ellen Ripley. However the crew on Aliens was hostile to him, regarding him as a poor substitute for Ridley Scott. Cameron showed them The Terminator but the majority of the crew refused to watch it and remained skeptical of his direction throughout production. Despite this and other off-screen problems (such as clashing with an uncooperative camera man and having to replace one of the lead actors – Michael Biehn of Terminator took James Remar’s place as Corporal Hicks), Aliens became a box office success. It received Academy Award nominations for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Weaver, Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound, and won awards for Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Visual Effects. In addition, the film and its lead actress made the cover ofTIME magazine.

Cameron’s next project stemmed from an idea that had come up during a high school biology class. The story of oil-rig workers who discover otherworldly underwater creatures which became the basis of The Abyss, which cast Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Michael Biehn. It was considered to be one of the most expensive films of its time, requiring cutting-edge effects technology. Because much of the film takes place underwater and the technology wasn’t advanced enough to digitally create an underwater environment, Cameron chose to shoot much of the movie “reel-for-real”, at depths of up to 40 feet (12 m). For creation of the sets, the containment building of an unfinished nuclear power plant was converted, and two huge tanks were used. The cast and crew resided there for much of the shooting.

Next Cameron directed the sequel of The Terminator which continued the story of Sarah Connor and her struggle against machines from the future. Although Cameron had come up with a core idea for the sequel, and Schwarzenegger expressed interest in continuing the story. Despite a few problems Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger both returned For the sequel Terminator 2: Judgment Day.  Schwarzenegger prep risked his role as The Terminator, but this time as a protector. Unlike Schwarzenegger’s character—the T-800 Terminator which is made of a metal endoskeleton—the new villain of the sequel, (T-1000), is a more-advanced Terminator made of liquid metal, and with polymorphic abilities. The T-1000 would also be much less bulky than the T-800. For the role, Cameron cast Robert Patrick, a sharp contrast to Schwarzenegger. The ground-breaking effects used in The Abyss to digitally depict the water tentacle convinced Cameron that his liquid metal villain was now possible. Like Cameron’s previous film, it was one of the most expensive films of its era, with a budget of about $100 million. The biggest challenge of the movie was the special effects used in creating the T-1000. It became the highest-grossing film of 1991 and won four Academy Awards: Best Makeup, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, and Best Visual Effects. It was also nominated for Best Cinematography and Best Film Editing, but lost both Awards to JFK.

A sequel Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was released in July 2003 without Cameron’s involvement. Jonathan Mostow directed the film and Schwarzenegger returned as the Terminator. Cameron reunited with the main cast of Terminator 2 to film T2 3-D: Battle Across Time, an attraction at Universal Studios Florida, Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Japan. It was released in 1996 and was a mini-sequel to Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The show is in two parts: a prequel segment in which a spokesperson talks about Cyberdyne, and a main feature, in which the performers interact with a 3-D movie. Before the release of T2, Schwarzenegger came to Cameron with the idea of remaking the French comedy La Totale! Titled True Lies, with filming beginning after T2’s release, the story revolves around a secret-agent spy who leads a double life as a married man, whose wife believes he is a computer salesman. Schwarzenegger was cast as Harry Tasker, a spy charged with stopping a plan by a terroristto use nuclear weapons against the United States. Jamie Lee Curtis and Eliza Dushku played the character’s family, and Tom Arnold the sidekick. True Lies was released in 1994 and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects.

Cameron expressed interest in the famous sinking of the ship RMS Titanic. He decided to script and film his next project based on this event. The picture revolved around a fictional romance story between two young lovers from different social classes who meet on board. So he dived to the bottom of the Atlantic and shot actual footage of the ship underwater, which he inserted into the final film. Cameron then cast Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Gloria Stuart, Bernard Hill, Jonathan Hyde, Victor Garber, Danny Nucci, David Warner, Suzy Amis, and Bill Paxton as the film’s principal cast. Titanic became the most expensive movie ever made at the time and was widely ridiculed for its expense and protracted production schedule. But went on to gross more than $1 billion worldwide. It remained the highest-grossing film since 1998, until Cameron’s 2009 film Avatar. The CG visuals surrounding the sinking and destruction of the ship were considered spectacular. Titanic received 14 Oscar nominations (tied with All About Eve) at the 1998 Academy Awards. It won 11 Oscars (also tying the record for most Oscar wins with Ben-Hur and later The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King), including: Best Picture,Best Director, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, Best Film Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing, Best Original Dramatic Score, Best Original Song.After receiving the Best Picture Oscar along withJon Landau, Cameron asked for a moment of silence for the 1500 men, women and children, who died when the ship sank. Titanic was subsequently re-released in 3D in April 2012, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the real ship.

Cameron then created Dark Angel, a superheroine-centered series influenced bycyberpunk, biopunk, contemporary superhero franchises, and third-wave feminism. It starred Jessica Alba as Max Guevara, a genetically enhanced super-soldier created by a secretive organization. Cameron’s work was said to “bring empowered female warriors back to television screens by mixing the sober feminism of his The Terminator and Aliens characters with the sexed-up Girl Power of a Britney Spears concert.” And Cameron himself directed the series finale, a two-hour episode wrapping up many of the series’ loose ends.

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