James Cameron - Biography

Learn more about this ground-breaking film director, writer, producer and explorer

An acclaimed film-maker and explorer

As director, writer and producer James Cameron is responsible for some of the most memorable films of the past three decades: THE TERMINATOR, ALIENS, THE ABYSS, TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY, TRUE LIES, TITANIC, and AVATAR. 

Cameron has been an avid scuba diver since 1969, logging over 3000 hours underwater. In 1995, Cameron made 12 manned-submersible dives to the Titanic wreck in preparation for his feature film, using new camera and lighting technology designed for that expedition. The expedition fueled his desire to turn to documentary filmmaking, and he formed Earthship Productions to develop films about ocean exploration and conservation.

His team's survey of the inside of Titanic wreck in 2001 was the subject of Cameron's film, GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS.

Using advanced fiber-optic-spooling ROV’s he co-designed, Cameron flew seven survey missions inside the wreck, bringing to light the surviving vestiges of its past glory.  And using 3D deep-ocean cameras designed by himself and Vince Pace, and using a large lighting vehicle commissioned for the expedition, Cameron recorded unprecedented vistas of the wreck’s exterior.

In May of 2002, Cameron piloted his robotic cameras inside the wreck of Bismarck, which resulted in the Discovery Channel documentary, JAMES CAMERON'S EXPEDITION: BISMARCK.  Cameron's team then made 3 expeditions to deep hydrothermal vent sites in the Atlantic, Pacific and Sea of Cortez, comprising over 30 dives, which became the subject of ALIENS OF THE DEEP.  He was joined in his exploration by a team of young scientists to study how life forms discovered there might represent life we may one day find on other planets and moons in our solar system.

Director Producer James Cameron Copyright Disney Enterprises Inc Walden

In 2012, Cameron led his eighth deep ocean expedition.  His engineering team had previously spent seven years building a unique manned submersible, the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER, which he co-designed with Ron Allum. During sea trials in the New Britain Trench off Papua New Guinea Cameron dove solo to 5 miles (8 km) depth, imaging and sampling new organisms in the previously unexplored trench.  On March 26 Cameron made a record-breaking solo dive to the earth’s deepest point, piloting the sub 7 miles (11 kilometers) to the bottom of the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench.  The expedition included biologists and geologists, and the samples and images collected are shedding unprecedented light on the virtually unknown habitats of the New Britain Trench, Challenger Deep and Sirena Deep.  68 new species were discovered, including the world’s deepest bacterial mats living off of serpentinization at 35,500’ depth in the Sirena Deep.

James Cameron in the DEEPSEA CHALLENGER. Mark Thiessen/Nat Geo Creative.

Cameron is a member of the Deep Submersible Pilots Association, and he is a National Geographic Explorer in Residence, and recipient of their most prestigious award, the Hubbard Medal, as well as the Explorer’s Club medal for Explorer of the Year.  He is a member of Ocean Elders, as well as the advisory boards of Plymouth Marine Laboratory and the Center for Marine Robotics at WHOI.

As an explorer, Cameron has been equally fascinated by outer as well as inner space. He was a co-investigator, involved in the development of the Mastcam camera, which is currently sending images back from the surface of Mars from its vantage point atop the recently landed Curiosity rover (Mars Science Laboratory).  Cameron served on the NASA Advisory Council for 3 years, is an active member of the Mars Society and the Planetary Society, serves on the Caltech Space Innovation Council, and remains as committed to the exploration of space as he is to the exploration and conservation of the oceans.  He is currently involved in the development of the Europa Lander mission at JPL.

He is also passionately involved in sustainability issues, having founded the Avatar Alliance Foundation.  He and his wife, Suzy Amis Cameron, also founded the Plant Power Task Force to promote awareness of the impact of animal agriculture on the environment.

He is currently in production on Avatar 2, 3, 4 and 5.