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Join us as we celebrate the release of Avatar by taking a look at the iconic career of award-winning director James Cameron.
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Director James Cameron's Career in Review
He’s well known for his temper on set and a need to pioneer new cinematic technologies in order to bring his iconic visions to life. Welcome to watchmojo.com and today we’re taking a look at the career of director James Cameron.
James Cameron was born in Ontario, Canada in 1954. He went on to study physics at California State University, Fullerton. Merely a year into his studies, he dropped out to marry a waitress and drive a truck. However, he underwent a life altering moment of clarity when he saw star wars in 1977. As a result, Cameron left his job and wife to pursue a career in the hopes of creating his own sci-fi epics.
Cameron got his start as the art director for Roger Corman’s Battle beyond the Stars. The job had been given to him following a screening of his own 12 minute film, Zeno genesis which showcased his ability to produce stunning visual effects. In 1981, Cameron worked his way up to the director’s chair for the film piranha II the spawning. The shoot was terrible experienced for Cameron as the film has an extremely low budget and a crew that only spoke Italian. Due to the stress he was under, Cameron experience a nightmare about robot assassin from the future. This inspired him to write screen play for 1984 as the terminator which he brought to life with the help of friends from the marketing department at Corman’s production studio.
The film became an unprecedented success which instantly revolutionize the action movie genre and propelled Arnold Schwarzenegger into Hollywood stardom. His success cost 20th century fox to pursue him as the writer and director for 1986 aliens. The high profile sequel to Ridley Scott’s ground breaking sci-fi horror film Alien. Despite friction caused by a crew that constantly stop to take breaks, Cameron manage to defy expectations and was rewarded at the box office for producing a strong narrative, characters and unparallel visual effects.
He was again pursued to direct the Abyss in 1989. However, cast overruns due to his elaborate set pieces and three cancelled released states caused the film to fail financially. The tense underwater shooting and severe shouting matches, Cameron had with his actors which resulted in their refusal to participate in promotional advance, did not help the project either. In the wake of the set back, Cameron formed like storm entertainment, so he could have full creative control of his projects without studio intervention. His first order of business was to create his impressive sequel to the terminator.
Terminator II Judgment day instantly became Cameron biggest success up to that point while claiming numerous awards for industry leading effects all made possible by the technology that Cameron crew had begun pioneering during the production process of the Abyss such as the liquid metal effects that were central to the movie. Cameron then followed up with various projects that were uncharacteristic for the director such as his spy film True Lies and the futuristic film nor a productions, Strange Days which he co- wrote and co-produce.
These projects helped him bide his time until he could truly position himself as one of cinema’s most iconic directors with 1997 Titanic. The film became one of the most visually stunning, expensive and profitable pieces of celluloid ever produced. The demands he plays on his talent and crew was so high that he drove them to the brink of exhaustion during their two year filming schedule. His budget also kept ballooning until it reached a record breaking 200 million dollars. As a result, Cameron decided to forgo his own paycheck in order to insure that he maintains full creative control.
In a wake of titanic Cameron took a ten year absence from feature filmmaking. During that time he serves as the producer for both the television show Dark Angel and Steven Soderbergh film Solaris. Cameron then ventured back to themes of his previous films by directing the documentaries goes to the Abyss and Aliens of the Deep for IMAX.
These projects allowed him to satisfy his fascinations surrounding the mysteries hidden in the ocean’s depth. With the vocal audience, they clearly wanted James Cameron to create yet another cinematic epic. He finally returned to feature filmmaking with his 2009 sci-fi masterpiece Avatar, a movie that he had envisioned over a decade earlier but was unable to make due to limitations in technology.