Meet: James Cameron
Film Writer, Director and Producer
Born in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada, James Cameron grew up in Niagara
Falls. He moved to Brea, California in 1971 where he studied physics at
Fullerton College while working as a machinist and, later, a truck driver.
Setting his sights on a career in film, Cameron quit his trucking job
in 1978 and raised money from a consortium of dentists in Tustin, California,
to produce a short film in 35mm. He served as producer, director, co-writer,
editor, miniature builder, cinematographer and special effects supervisor
on the production.
His work on the short film led to a position at Roger Corman's New World
Pictures in 1980 on "BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS." In the frenzied world of
low-budget guerrilla filmmaking, Cameron found a home on the production
where he could wear many hats again, miniature builder, model unit DP
and matte painter. Most importantly, he became the art director of the
picture's main unit and found the energy of the set exhilarating.
Determined to direct, Cameron parlayed his Production Designer job on
a subsequent Corman film, "GALAXY OF TERROR," into a stint as a Second
Unit Director. When the production fell behind schedule, Corman asked
him to shoot some dialogue scenes with principle cast. Finding the work
with actors exciting, Cameron began preparing a script for himself to
Cameron wrote "THE TERMINATOR" in 1982, hoping to couple his effects
and design experience with a low-budget high-impact vehicle that could
find independent financing. After two years of starvation, Cameron finally
brought the film before cameras as a Hemdale/HBO co-production released
by Orion. Though costing only $6 million, the film received international
acclaim, appeared on numerous ten-best lists, including Time Magazine's,
and made over $80 million worldwide.
While waiting for financing for "THE TERMINATOR," Cameron wrote two
scripts to keep busy. In a three month period Cameron co-wrote (with Sylvester
Stallone) "RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II" and a first draft of "ALIENS,"
the sequel to the 1979 science fiction classic, "ALIEN." "RAMBO II" later
became an international mega-hit grossing over $250 million globally.
After the success of "THE TERMINATOR," Cameron agreed to direct "ALIENS"
and plunged into production in 1985. The film was shot in England and
released in Summer 1986. It received seven Academy Award nominations,
including Best Actress for Sigourney Weaver. The film won for Best Visual
Effects and for Best Sound Effects. "ALIENS" grossed over $180 million
worldwide and ranks as one of the highest grossing R-rated films of all
time. As a result, NATO, the National Association of Theater Owners, named
Cameron Director of the Year in 1986. Time Magazine also featured the
film on its cover.
Cameron wrote and directed his next project, the underwater epic, "THE
ABYSS," in 1988-1989. The film took 18 months to complete and required
the creation of two freshwater filming tanks, which totaled over 11 million
gallons. It starred Ed Harris, Michael Biehn, and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio,
and received four Academy Award nominations. "THE ABYSS" won the Oscar
for Best Visual Effects and grossed $110 million worldwide. Aside from
being one of the most physically grueling and technically complex productions
in history, "THE ABYSS" blazed a new trail for visual effects with the
creation of photo-realistic computer animation unlike anything seen previously.
Next, Cameron co-wrote "POINT BREAK" with Kathryn Bigelow from an original
script by Peter Iliff. Cameron served as Executive Producer on the film,
while Bigelow directed. The film, released in Summer 1991, made close
to $100 million worldwide. Subsequently, it topped the video rental charts
for five weeks.
Concurrently with the pre-production of "POINT BREAK," Cameron completed
the script "TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY" and began production in Fall
of 1990 serving as writer, producer, and director.
"T2," as it came to be known globally, was completed in less than 12
months and became a new high-water mark for action- and visual-effects
photography. Building on techniques pioneered in "THE ABYSS," Cameron
worked with Industrial Light Magic to create computer animated images
far beyond anything previously seen or imagined. The visual tour-de-force,
coupled with the mega-presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger, propelled the
film to over $500 million in worldwide grosses. Ancillary revenues, including
worldwide video, TV and merchandising, brought the total revenues of the
film close to one billion dollars.
In addition to box office success, the film received six Oscar nominations,
of which it won four, for Make-up, Sound, Visual Effects and Sound Effects
Editing. It also received the Ray Bradbury Award for Dramatic Screenwriting,
five Saturn Awards for the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror
and six MTV Movie Awards. "T2" also won the People's Choice Award as Favorite
Motion Picture and took honors as the Video Software Dealers Association
Awards and the first annual Laser Disc Awards.
Carolco Pictures produced "T2" in association with Cameron's production
company, Lightstorm Entertainment. Subsequent to "T2," Lightstorm left
the Carolco umbrella, and by May of 1992 Cameron had completed finance
and distribution deals with Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Pictures,
Jugendfilm in Germany, Nippon Herald in Japan, and Artisti Associati in
Italy. He plans to produce two to three films a year, one of which he
In February 1993 Cameron formed Digital Domain, a visual effects and
digital production studio with Academy Award winning character creator
Stan Winston, renowned special effects studio executive Scott Ross and
IBM. With the digital revolution firmly in hand, the company offers a
full range of special effects services for feature films, television,
commercials and simulator attractions and reserves the right to create
its own intellectual properties for interactive entertainment and education.
Digital Domain's effects first appeared in the film "TRUE LIES," the
Arnold Schwarzenegger/Jamie Lee Curtis action-comedy, in July 1994, which
Cameron wrote, produced, and directed. "TRUE LIES" also served as the
flagship film for Cameron's Lightstorm Entertainment, the first film under
the company's multi-year worldwide distribution agreements. Currently,
the film has grossed over $360 million globally.
With "TRUE LIES" Cameron had created an impressive body of work in the
short span of five films. His vision and influence did not go unnoticed,
for in March 1995, NATO, the same organization who awarded him the Director
of the Year Award early on in his career, presented him with the Producer
of the Year Award. In addition, the Laser Disc Association presented him
with the Laser Beam Award for selling 500,000 units of his critically
acclaimed laser discs.
In 1995, Lightstorm Entertainment produced the Kathryn Bigelow ("POINT
BREAK") directed feature, "STRANGE DAYS," starring Ralph Fiennes and Angela
Bassett with a script by Jim Cameron and Jay Cocks.
December 19, 1997, "TITANIC" was released. James Cameron wrote, directed,
and produced the picture, which went on to gross over 1.5 billion dollars
worldwide. "TITANIC" received a record-tying 14 Academy Awardİ nominations.
It went on to win eleven, including Best Picture and Best Director.
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