Jim on the Carpenter Station Mission


James Cameron, Ph.D., AQ

James Cameron was born in Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada, on August 16, 1954. He moved to the USA in 1971. The son of an engineer, he majored in physics at California State University but, after graduating, drove a truck to support his screen-writing ambition. He landed his first professional film job as art director, miniature-set builder, and process-projection supervisor on Roger Corman's Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) and debuted as a director with Piranha Part Two: The Spawning (1981) the following year.

In 1984, he wrote and directed The Terminator (1984), a futuristic action-thriller starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, and Linda Hamilton. It was a huge success. After this came a string of successful science-fiction action films such as Aliens (1986) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). Cameron is now one of the most sought-after directors in Hollywood.

The young Cameron, a natural leader organized his playmates in such adventurous endeavors as building a functional catapult that pitched boulders large enough to make impact craters; on another occasion, he and his friends created a miniature diving vessel to send mice to the bottom of Niagara River. 

In high school he wrote sci-fi stories and fantasized a lot instead of doing his homework. An avid reader of science fiction since childhood, he was fifteen when he saw Stanley Kubrick's visionary film, 2001: A Space Odyssey for the first time. He became fascinated with the whole motion picture process he subsequently watched the film ten times. "As soon as I saw that, I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker," explained Cameron, "It hit me on a lot of different levels. I just couldn't figure out how he did all that stuff, and I just had to learn." And learn he did, grabbing his father's Super-8 camera, attempting to direct his own movies. 

The next pivotal juncture in Cameron's evolution as a filmmaker came in 1977, when he saw Star Wars for the first time. It was exactly the movie he had dreamed of making since watching 2001: A Space Odyssey, and it inspired him to finally reach out for the dream.

It occurred to him that the possibility of integrating his interests in science and art were possible, due to the book Screenplay, which encouraged himself and two friends to create a ten minute script together. They raised the money to shoot it in 35mm and rented a camera, lenses, the film stocks and a studio. To understand how to operate the camera they simply dismantled it and spent the first half-day of the shoot just trying to figure out how to get it running. 

Cameron decided to put all of his talents into his own work, The Abyss (1989) was born. 

The Abyss would later set new standards for underwater shooting. The crew along with Cameron had to design and create most of the gear worn by the actors, which was no small feat. Furthermore, the entire movie was exhaustingly time-consuming and expensive and post-production ended up delayed because of some of the difficult effects shots that were to be in the movie, which were later edited out. The film took 18 months to complete.

Jim continues to share and blend his interests with film making and exploring.  A frequent in-person visitor to the underwater site of the Titanic, Jim has also designed and build ROVs and joined Dennis and Claudia Chamberland in the Scott Carpenter Space Analog Station adventure in 1998 where he earned his certification as an aquanaut.