Cameron was born in Kapuskasing, Ontario,Canada, the son of Shirley (née Lowe), an artist and nurse, and Phillip Cameron, an electrical engineer. His paternal great-great-great-grandfather emigrated from Balquhidder, Scotland in 1825, thus, he descends from Clan Cameron.
Cameron grew up in Chippawa, Ontario and attended Stamford Collegiate School in Niagara Falls; his family moved to Brea, California in 1971 when he was 17. Cameronenrolled at Fullerton College, a 2-year community college, in 1973 to study Physics. After seeing the original Star Wars film in 1977, Cameron left his job as a truck driver to enter the film industry. When Cameron read Syd Field's book Screenplay, it occurred to him that integrating science and art was possible, and he wrote a ten minute science fiction script with two friends, entitled Xenogenesis.They raised money and rented camera, lenses, film stocks, and studio, and shot it in 35mm. To understand how to operate the camera, they dismantled it and spent the first half-day of the shoot trying to figure out how to get it running.
As Cameron continued educating himself in techniques, he started as a miniature model maker at Roger Corman Studios. Making fast, low-budgetproductions taught Cameron to work efficiently and effectively. He soon was an art director in the sci-fi movie Battle Beyond the Stars (1980). He did special effects work design and direction on John Carpenter's Escape from New York (1981), acted as production designer on Galaxy of Terror (1981), and consulted on the design of Android (1982) .Cameron was hired as the special effects director for thesequel of Piranha, entitled Piranha II: The Spawning in 1981. However, the director left the project and Cameron was hired by Italian producer Assonitis to take over, giving him his first directorial job. He worked with producer Roger Corman. The interior scenes were filmed in Rome, Italy while the underwater diving sequences were shot at Grand Cayman Island.The movie was to be produced in Jamaica,but when Cameron arrived at the studio, he discovered that the project was under-financed and his crew comprised primarily Italians who spoke no English.
Under duress, Cameron says, he had a nightmare about an invincible robot hitman sent from the future to kill him, giving him the idea for The Terminator, which would later catapult his filming career.
Cameron expressed interest in thefamous sinking of the ship RMS Titanic. He decided to script and film his next project based on this event. The picture revolved around a fictional romance story between two young lovers from different social classes who meet onboard the ship's maiden voyage. Before production began, he took dives to the bottom of the Atlantic and shot actual footage of the ship underwater, which he inserted intothe final film.
For the film Titanic, Cameron cast Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, and Billy Zane. Cameron's budget for the film reached about $200 million, making it the most expensive movie ever made at the time. Before its release, the film was widely ridiculed for its expense and protracted production schedule.
Cameron received the Bradbury Award from the Science Fiction and...