Cameron, James 1954–
CAMERON, James 1954–
Full name, James Francis Cameron; born August 16, 1954, in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada; immigrated to the United States, 1971; son of Phillip (an electrical engineer) and Shirley (an artist and nurse) Cameron; married Sharon Williams (a waitress), February 14, 1978 (divorced, 1984); married Gale Anne Hurd (a producer and screenwriter), 1985 (divorced, 1989); married Kathryn Bigelow (a motion picture director, writer, and producer), August 17, 1989 (divorced, 1991); married Linda Hamilton (an actress), July 26, 1997 (divorced, 1999); married Suzy Amis (an actress), June 4, 2000; children: (fourth marriage) Josephine Archer; (fifth marriage) Carol. Education: Studied physics at California State University. Avocational Interests: Flying, SCUBA diving, motorcycling.
Addresses: Agent—Endeavor, 9601 Wilshire Blvd., 3rd Floor, Beverly Hills, CA 90210. Office—c/o Digital Domain, 300 Rose Ave., Venice, CA 90291; Lightstorm Entertainment, 919 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401.
Career: Director, producer, screenwriter, editor, cinematographer, and art director. New World Pictures, worked as production assistant, second unit director, production designer and miniature set builder for Roger Corman; Lightstorm Entertainment (production company), Santa Monica, CA, head of company, 1992—; Digital Domain (visual effects company), cofounder, partner, and chief executive officer, 1993—; Childspot! (a childhood center), Wichita, KS, co–owner (with Suzy Amis); also worked as a machinist and a truck driver.
Member: Directors Guild of America.
Awards, Honors: International Fantasy Film Award nomination, best film, Fantasporto, 1983, for Piranha Part Two: The Spawning; Grand Prize, Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival, Saturn Award (with Gale Anne Hurd), best writing, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, Saturn Award nomination, best director, 1985, all for The Terminator; named director of the year, National Association of Theatre Owners, 1986; Reader's Choice Award, Kinema Junpo Awards, best foreign language film, 1986, Saturn Awards, best director and best writing, 1999, DVDX Award nomination (with others), best audio commentary (new for DVD), 2003, all for Aliens; Saturn Award, best director, 1991, for The Abyss; Ray Bradbury Award for Dramatic Screenwriting, People's Choice Award, favorite motion picture, Reader's Choice Award, Mainichi Film Concours, best foreign language film, 1991, Bradbury Award, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Saturn Award, best director, 1992, all for Terminator 2: Judgment Day; Saturn Award, best director, 1995, for True Lies; ShoWest Award, producer of the year, 1995; Academy Awards, best picture (with others), best directing, and best film editing (with Jon Landau), Special Citation, National Board of Review, 1997, Golden Globe award, best director—motion picture, Golden Globe Award nomination, best screenplay—motion picture, Writers Guild of America Award (screen) nomination, best screenplay written directly for the screen, Motion Picture Producer of the Year Award (with Jon Landau), Producers Guild of America, Online Film Critics Society Award, best director, Reader's Choice Award, Mainichi Film Concours, best foreign language film, Sierra Award, best director, Las Vegas Film Critics Society, Hochi Film Award, best foreign language film, Golden Satellite Awards, best director of a motion picture and best motion picture—drama (with Jon Landau), Golden Satellite Award nomination, best motion picture—original, Directors Guild of America Award (with others), outstanding directorial achievement in motion pictures, Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award, best director, Chicago Film Critics Association Award nomination, best director, Broadcast Film Critics Association Award, best director, Blue Ribbon Award, best foreign language film, David Lean Award for Direction nomination, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Film Award nominations (with others), best editing and best film, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Eddie Award (with others), American Cinema editors, best edited feature film, Amanda Award, best foreign feature film, 1998, ALFS Award nomination, director of the year, London Critics Circle, International Monitor Award (with David Bernstein), theatrical releases—color correction, Cesar Award nomination, best foreign film, Audience Award, Czech Lions, 1999, all for Titanic; President's Award, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, 1998, 2003; Lifetime Achievement Award, Malibu Film Festival, 1999; Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year Award, American Cinema Editors, 2000; Emmy Award nomination (with Gary Johnstone), outstanding directing for nonfiction programming, 2003, for Expedition: Bismarck; Vanguard Award, Producers Guild of America, 2004; Nicola Tesla Award, Golden Satellite Awards, 2004.
Director, Xenogenesis (short film), 1978.
Art director, additional photographer, miniature constructor, and miniature designer, Battle beyond the Stars, New World, 1980.
Set dresser assistant, Happy Birthday, Gemini, United Artists, 1980.
(With Ovidio Assonitis) Director, Piranha II: The Spawning (also known as Piranha II: Flying Killers, Piranha paura, and The Spawning), Columbia, 1981.
Production designer and unit director, Galaxy of Terror (also known as An Infinity of Terror, Mindwarp, Mindwarp: An Infinity of Terror, Planet of Horrors, and Quest), New World, 1981.
Design consultant, Android, New World, 1982.
Director, The Terminator, Orion, 1984.
Director and (uncredited) alien queen designer, Aliens, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1986.
Director, The Abyss, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1989.
Producer and director, Terminator 2: Judgment Day (also known as T2, El Exterminator 2, T2—Terminator 2: Judgment Day, T2: Extreme Edition, T2: Ultimate Edition, and Terminator 2—Le jugement dernier), TriStar, 1991.
Executive producer, Point Break, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1991.
Additional photography, Under Pressure: Making "The Abyss" (documentary), 1993.
Producer and director, True Lies, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1994.
Producer and editor, Strange Days, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1995.
(Uncredited) Visual effects consultant, Apollo 13 (also known as Apollo 13: The IMAX Experience), 1995.
Director, Terminator 2: 3–D (also known as T2 3–D: Battle across Time, Terminator 2: 3–D, and T2: Terminator 2:3–D), 1996.
Producer, director, editor, cinematographer: Titanic deep dive camera, special camera equipment designer, and camera operator, Titanic, Paramount, 1997.
Producer, Solaris, Twentieth Century–Fox, 2002.
Director, producer, and reality camera system designer, Ghosts of The Abyss (documentary; also known as Titanic3D: Ghosts of the Abyss), Buena Vista, 2003.
Executive producer, Volcanoes of the Deep Sea (documentary short film), 2003.
Director, producer, and cinematographer, Aliens of the Deep (documentary), Buena Vista, 2005.
Producer, Godspeed, 2005.
Himself, The Making of "Terminator": A Retrospective (documentary short film), Live Home Video, 1992.
Himself, Under Presser: Making "The Abyss" (documentary), Twentieth Century–Fox Home Entertainment, 1993.
Himself, T2: More Than Meets the Eye, 1993.
Himself, Your Studio and You, 1995.
Himself, Directors: James Cameron (documentary), 1997.
Cameo, Titanic, Paramount, 1997.
Himself, The Muse, October Films, 1999.
Himself, Virus: Ghost in the Machine (documentary short film), Universal Studios Home Video, 1999.
Himself, Auto Motives, 2000.
Himself, Other Voices: Creating "The Terminator" (documentary), Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer Home Entertainment, 2001.
Himself, From Morf to Morphing: The Dawn of Digital Filmmaking (documentary short film), Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, 2001.
Himself, Iron and Beyond (documentary short film), 2002.
Himself, No Feat But What We Make: "Terminator 2" and the Rise of Digital Effects (documentary short), Artisan Entertainment, 2002.
Himself, Ghosts of the Abyss (documentary short film; also known as Titanic3D: Ghosts of the Abyss), Buena Vista, 2003.
Himself, Superior Firepower: The Making of "Aliens" (documentary), Twentieth Century–Fox Home Entertainment, 2003.
Himself, The Force Is with Them: The Legacy of "Star Wars" (documentary short film), 2004.
Himself, Aliens of the Deep (documentary), Buena Vista, 2005.
Television Work; Series:
Executive producer and creator, Dark Angel (also known as James Cameron's "Dark Angel"), Fox, 2000–2002.
Television Work; Pilots:
Executive producer, Dark Angel (also known as James Cameron's "Dark Angel"), Fox, 2000.
Television Work; Specials:
Expedition: Bismarck (documentary; also known as James Cameron's "Expedition: Bismarck"), The Discovery Channel, 2002.
Television Director; Episodic:
"Freak Nation," Dark Angel (also known as James Cameron's "Dark Angel"), Fox, 2002.
Television Appearances; Specials:
Himself, The Making of "Terminator" (documentary), 1984.
Himself, The Making of "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (documentary), 1992.
Himself, The Making of "Alien 3" (documentary), 1992. Secrets Revealed, ABC, 1994.
Interviewee, "Stan Lee: The ComiX–MAN!," Biography, Arts and Entertainment, 1995.
Himself, Hollywood Aliens & Monsters, Arts and Entertainment, 1997.
Barbara Walters Presents the 10 Most Fascinating People of 1998, ABC, 1998.
Hollywood Salutes Arnold Schwarzenegger, TNT, 1998.
Host, Martian Mania: The True Story of "War of the Worlds" (documentary), Sci–Fi Channel, 1998.
The Director's Vision: Hollywood's Best Discuss Their Craft, 1998.
Titanic Mania, E! Entertainment Television, 1998.
Titanic: Breaking New Ground, Fox, 1998.
Himself, Beyond Titanic (documentary), Arts and Entertainment, 1998.
Himself, From Star Wars to Star Wars (also known as From Star Wars to Star Wars: The Story of Industrial Light and Magic), 1999.
Himself, Ray Harryhausen: Working with Dinosaurs (documentary), Channel 4, 1999.
The Ultimate Auction, Fox, 2000.
Himself, The Making of "Terminator 2: 3–D" (documentary), 2000.
Himself, Alien Evolution (documentary), Channel 4, 2001.
Heroes for the Planet—A Tribute to National Geographic, CNBC, Fox News, and National Geographic, 2001.
George Lucas: Creating an Empire (documentary), Arts and Entertainment, 2002. (Uncredited) Himself, The Alien Saga (documentary), 2002.
ROV pilot (submersible dive team), Expedition: Bismarck (also known as James Cameron's "Expedition: Bismarck"), The Discovery Channel, 2002.
(Uncredited) Himself, Who Is Alan Smithee? (documentary), AMC, 2002.
Himself, Terminator: The E! True Hollywood Story (documentary), E! Entertainment Television, 2002. The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing (documentary), Starz!, 2004.
The Making of Alien vs. Predator (documentary), Fox, 2004.
Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:
The MTV Movie Awards, MTV, 1992.
The 1998 MTV Movie Awards, MTV, 1998.
The 70th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1998.
Presenter, The 5th Annual ALMA Awards, ABC, 2000.
Presenter, World Stunt Awards, ABC, 2001.
Television Appearances; Episodic:
Guest, Late Night with David Letterman, 1989.
Himself, "Hollywood's Robots," Movie Magic, 1997.
Himself, Howard Stern, 1998.
Himself, "The Finale," Mad about You, NBC, 1998.
(Uncredited) Himself, Saturday Night Live, NBC, 1999.
Himself, Revealed with Jules Asner, E! Entertainment Television, 2002.
Himself, The Buzz, YTV, 2003.
Himself, The View, ABC, 2005.
Also appeared as himself, "James Cameron," The Directors; himself, "Roger Corman," The Directors.
Video Games (Appearances):
Voice of himself, Titanic Explorer (also known as James Cameron's "Titanic Explorer"), 1997.
Video Games (Work):
Executive producer, Titanic Explorer (also known as James Cameron's "Titanic Explorer"), 1997.
Directed Martini Ranch's "Reach."
Xenogenesis (short film), 1978. (With Gale Anne Hurd and William Wisher, Jr.) The Terminator, Orion, 1984.
(With Sylvester Stallone) Rambo: First Blood, Part II, TriStar, 1985.
Aliens (based on a story by Cameron, David Giler and Walter Hill; based on characters created by Dan O'Bannon and Ronald Shusett), Twentieth Century–Fox, 1986.
Alien Nation, 1988.
The Abyss, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1989.
(With Wisher) Terminator 2: Judgment Day (also known as T2, El Exterminator 2, T2—Terminator 2: Judgment Day, T2: Extreme Edition, T2: Ultimate Edition, and Terminator 2—Le jugement dernier), TriStar, 1991.
(With Kathryn Bigelow) Point Break, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1991.
True Lies (based on the French film La totale!), Twentieth Century–Fox, 1994.
Strange Days (based on a story by Cameron), Twentieth Century–Fox, 1995.
Terminator 2: 3–D (also known as T2 3–D: Battle across Time, Terminator 2: 3–D, and T2: Terminator 2:3–D), 1996.
Titanic, Paramount, 1997.
Dark Angel (also known as James Cameron's "Dark Angel"), Fox, 2000.
Television Awards Presentations:
(Special material) The 74th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 2002.
"The Sound of the Guns," Screenplay, ITV, 1979.
Television Episodes; Stories:
"Freak Nation," Dark Angel, Fox, 2002.
(Author of forward) Charles R. Pellegrino, Ghosts of the Titanic: New Discoveries from the Depths of the Ocean Floor, William Morrow, 2000.
Contemporary Authors, Volume 137, Gale, 1992. Film Directors: A Complete Guide, Lone Eagle Press, 1987, pp. 3–5, 8–9.
Heard, Christopher, Dreaming Aloud: The Films of James Cameron, Bantam Books, 1998.
International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 2: Directors, 4th ed., St. James Press, 2000.
Parisi, Paula, Titanic and the Making of James Cameron: The Inside Story of the Three–Year Adventure That Rewrote Motion Picture History, Newmarket Press, 1998.
Entertainment Weekly, July 29, 1994, pp. 26–33; February 18, 2005, p. 10.
Esquire, December, 1997, p. 98.
Hollywood Reporter, April 22, 1992, pp. 1, 6.
Los Angeles Times, July 2, 1991, pp. F1, F4–5; April 27, 1997.
Maclean's, December 8, 1997, p. 86.
Newsweek, December 15, 1997, p. 64; April 13, 1998, 70; March 22, 1999, p. 8.
People Weekly, August 11, 1986, pp. 93–95.
Premiere, August, 1994, p. 44; May 11, 1998, p. 64.
Saturday Night, March, 1998, p. 26.
Starlog, January, 1990, pp. 29–32, 62.
Theatre Crafts International, January, 1998, p. 24.
US, August, 1991.
USA Today, March, 1998, p. 42.
Variety, March 30, 1998, p. 4; April 6, 1998, p. 4.
Nationality: American. Born: James Francis Cameron in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada, 26 August, 1954; moved to the United States in 1971. Education: Graduated in physics at California State University, Fullerton. Family: Married 1) Sharon Williams, 1974 (divorced 1985); 2) Gale Anne Hurd, 1985 (divorced 1989); 3) Kathryn Bigelow, 1989 (divorced 1991); 4) Linda Hamilton, 1997 (separated); one daughter with Hamilton: Josephine Archer, born 1993. Career: Financed early screenwriting with truckdriving; first professional film job as special effects man and art director for Roger Corman, 1980; set up production company, Lightstorm Entertainment, 1990; co-founder and CEO of visual effects company Digital Domain, 1993; True Lies first film to cost over $100 million, 1994; Titanic first film to cost over $200 million, 1997. Awards: Razzie Award (USA) for Worst Screenplay, for Rambo: First Blood Part II (shared with Sylvester Stallone and Kevin Jarre), 1986; ShoWest (USA) Producer of the Year, 1995; Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Director, Directors' Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures for Titanic (shared with
others), Golden Globe for Best Director-Motion Picture, Golden Satellite Awards for Best Director of Motion Picture, Best Motion Picture-Drama (shared with John Landau), and Best Motion Picture Film Editing (shared with Richard A. Harris and Conrad Buff), American Cinema Editors Eddie Award for Best Edited Feature Film (shared with Buff and Harris), and Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Film Editing (shared with Buff and Harris), and Best Picture (shared with Landau), all for Titanic, 1998; Academy of Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Films Preident's Award, 1998; Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year Award, 2000. Address: Lightstorm Entertainment, 919 Santa Monica Boulevard, Santa Monica, California 90401–2704, USA.
Films as Director:
Pirhana II: The Spawning (Pirhana II: Flying Killers, The Spawning)
The Terminator (+ co-sc)
Aliens (+ co-sc)
The Abyss (+ sc)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (T2) (+ co-sc, pr)
True Lies (+ sc, co-pr)
T2 3-D: Battle across Time (Terminator 2: 3) (+ co-sc)
Titanic (+ sc, co-pr, co-ed, ro as extra)
Battle beyond the Stars (co-ph)
Escape from New York (co-ph)
Rambo: First Blood Part II (co-sc)
Point Break (exec pr)
The Muse (ro as himself)
Dark Angel (for TV) (sc)
By CAMERON: books—
With William Wisher, Terminator 2: Judgment Day: The Book of theFilm, an Illustrated Screenplay, New York, 1991.
Titanic, New York, 1997.
By CAMERON: articles—
Interview with R. Yates, "Ship Happens. Jim'll Fix It," in ObserverReview (London), 11 January, 1998.
Interview with Garth Pearce, in Total Film (London), February 1998.
Interview with Anne Thompson, in Premiere (New York), February 1999.
On CAMERON: books—
Heard, Christopher, Dreaming Aloud: The Life and Films of JamesCameron, Toronto, 1997.
Parisi, Paula, "Titanic" and the Making of James Cameron: TheInside Story of the Three-Year Adventure that Rewrote MotionPicture History, New York, 1998.
On CAMERON: articles—
Ebert, Roger, review of Aliens, in Chicago Sun-Times (Chicago), 18 July 1986.
Chase, Donald, "On the Set of Terminator 2: Reinventing a Science-Fiction Classic for the Nineties," in Entertainment Weekly (New York), 12 July 1991.
Kilday, Gregg, "Brave New World," in Entertainment Weekly (New York), 20 August 1991.
Jancovich, Mark, "Modernity and Subjectivity in The Terminator: The Machine as Monster in Contemporary American Culture," in The Velvet Light Trap (Austin, Texas), Fall 1992.
Thompson, Anne, "Five True Lies about James Cameron," in Entertainment Weekly (New York), 29 July 1994.
Richardson, John H., "Iron Jim," in Premiere (New York), August 1994.
Arroyo, Jose, "Cameron and the Comic," in Sight and Sound (London), September 1994.
Burr, Ty, "Cameron Focus," in Entertainment Weekly (New York), 13 July 1995.
Larson, Doran, "Machine as Messiah: Cyborgs, Morphs and the American Body Politic," in Cinema Journal (Urbana), Summer 1997.
Parisi, Paula, "Man Overboard!" in Entertainment Weekly (New York), 7 November 1997.
Masters, Kim, "Trying to Stay Afloat," in Time (New York), 8 December 1997.
Arroyo, Jose, "Massive Attack," in Sight and Sound (London), February 1998.
Hughes, David, "Magnificent Obsession (Dispatches from the Set of Titanic)," in Premiere (New York), December 1998.
* * *
In his acceptance speech at the Golden Globe awards in 1998, James Cameron asked whether the success of Titanic proved once and for all that size matters. Everything about the film was big. At over $200 million, its budget was the biggest in movie history; an entire new studio had to be constructed for the production, including a huge water tank to hold a ninety-percent sized replica of the original ship. In fact, Cameron's remark could have applied to any one of his films since the mid-1980s. Titanic, which he once called his "190 million-dollar chick flick," was merely the biggest of a series of films that have earned the director a reputation for taking on groundbreaking and ambitious projects.
Known in Hollywood as "Iron Jim," it has been said that working on one of Cameron's projects is like waging a military campaign. Cameron can now demand the highest standards from his cast and crew, but it was as a special effects expert for Roger Corman, providing additional direction on Battle beyond the Stars (1980), that Cameron made his first professional steps as a filmmaker. His first solo work as a director, Pirhana II, from which he was fired before completion, did not suggest the beginnings of a glittering career. Its clunky special effects and ludicrous storyline about pirhana fish that learn to fly are closer to B-movie horrors from the 1950s than the director's polished later output. It was not until 1984, and The Terminator, that Cameron had his first major success.
With Arnold Schwarzenegger as the T800, a cyborg back from the future, The Terminator cost only $6.4 million, about the same as six minutes' footage from Titanic. The Terminator became something of a surprise hit, rescuing Schwarzenegger from a career of bodybuilding films and Conan sequels, and launching Cameron into the big league. It brought thoughtful science fiction to a wide audience, addressing concerns about nuclear war and the revolution in computing and robotics that was taking hold in the early 1980s. Widely recognized as a science-fiction classic, The Terminator confirmed Cameron's abilities as a director and led to him being hired to make the high-profile sequel to Ridley Scott's Alien. With Sigourney Weaver reprising her role as Ripley, Aliens sees her awakened from hibernation fifty-seven years after her first ordeal and returning to the mysterious planet from which she escaped in the earlier film. Although the plot is rather derivative, the special effects are impressive and the action relentless. One critic, Roger Ebert, advised viewers not to eat before going to see it, but declared it "a superb example of filmmaking craft." Aliens, and later films like The Abyss and Terminator 2, all contain strong female characters, and Cameron is often noted for creating positive roles for women, but in reality his feminist credentials are far from certain. Writing in Entertainment Weekly, Ty Burr even goes as far as to suggest that the presence of strong female characters is thanks to Cameron's collaborators, Gale Ann Hurd and Linda Hamilton, and notes the misogynistic language in True Lies, which is all Cameron's own work.
Special effects and slick direction redeem the otherwise disappointing The Abyss, which opened in 1989 to less than enthusiastic reviews. Set on a drilling rig on the seabed, the film is slower paced than Aliens and contains few sympathetic characters. It is a landmark film, however, because of the way computerized images are integrated with live action. Cameron has been a pioneer of computer generated effects, and in the early 1990s co-founded the IBM-backed digital effects company, Digital Domain, in order to develop the technology further. After the lessons learned on The Abyss, Computer Generated Images (CGI) were used still more effectively in his next film, Terminator 2. Like the column of water in The Abyss, the "liquid metal" T-1000 can change into any shape. But Terminator 2 set new standards for the integration of digital images and live action by applying the "morphing" technique to a live actor. Even apart from the stunning effects, Terminator 2 is a better film than the original, combining humor, real human drama, and large-scale set pieces in what is probably Cameron's most balanced work.
Cameron's third Schwarzenegger vehicle, True Lies, is a comedy about a spy whose wife doesn't know what he really does for a living. Like Terminator 2, it is also heavy with CGI, but whereas Terminator 2 put the special effects on display, in True Lies, Cameron aimed to make the action as realistic as possible, concealing computerized shots from the audience. In one stunt, for example, a truck was supposed to leap off the end of a broken bridge and land in the water. When it unexpectedly made it to the other side, Cameron had it removed digitally from the bridge and made to plunge into the sea. Impressive for its technical accomplishments, True Lies is rather bloated and too long for its flimsy plot.
Because of the enormous financial success of his films, Cameron is one of the most influential figures in filmmaking, while his production company, Lightstorm Entertainment, allows him almost total autonomy in choosing film projects. Titanic is Cameron's most ambitious project to date, and its earnings take the gross box office income of his films to over $1 billion. But although the film was successful at the box office and at the awards, it has been criticized for the weakness of the romantic plot at its center, and for its failures as a human drama. In a Cameron film, however, none of this really matters: the director's real strengths lie in his technical brilliance and his willingness to take risks. After Titanic, it is difficult to imagine filmmaking on a grander scale. Yet as Cameron himself explains, in the era of digital movie making, "There are no limits to what you can do. Only money."