Entertainment Magazine

Aliens of the Deep


Born in Kapuskasing, Ontario, JAMES CAMERON (co-director/producer) grew up near Niagara Falls and, in 1971, moved to Brea, California, where he studied physics at Fullerton College while working as a machinist and, later, a truck driver.

Self-taught in filmmaking and visual effects, Cameron went to work for low-budget producer Roger Corman on “Battle Beyond the Stars” in 1980. In 1984, he directed “The Terminator” from his own screenplay.

Cameron has since written and directed “Aliens,” “The Abyss,” “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” “True Lies,” and “Titanic.” “Titanic” won 11 Academy Awards ®, including Cameron’s Oscars® for Best Director, Best Editing and Best Picture, and has grossed $1.8 billion at the box office, more than any other film.

Cameron then cocreated and produced 44 episodes of “Dark Angel,” which gained a loyal following and a number of prestigious nominations and awards. In 1995, Cameron made 12 dives to the Titanicwreck to gather shots for his feature film. In recent years, his desire to bring profound experience of deep-ocean exploration to audiences around the world motivated Cameron to turn to documentary filmmaking and the development of a 3-D Reality Camera System, which he codeveloped with Pace Technologies and Sony.

Cameron worked with his brother Mike to design and build underwater housings that enable the cameras to be taken to depths of up to 20,000 feet and two ROVs with the capability to explore anywhere inside deep shipwrecks. The expedition was the subject of Cameron’s 3-D IMAX ®movie, “Ghosts of the Abyss.”

In May of 2002, Cameron guided his robotic cameras inside the wreck of the battleship Bismarck,which resulted in groundbreaking discoveries about the sinking of the legendary German battleship and the Discovery Channel documentary, “James Cameron’s Expedition: Bismarck.” Cameron has made a total of 49 dives in the MIR submersibles and currently co-owns the two Deep Rover submersibles. For “Aliens of the Deep,” he codirected topside scenes and directed underwater scenes, as well as operated the deep-ocean camera system.

His Earthship Productions documentary company is planning future ocean expeditions to be interspersed with feature films which he will produce and direct under his Lightstorm Entertainment banner. He serves on the NASA Advisory Council and is involved in space policy and exploration, as well as ocean exploration and conservation.

STEVEN QUALE(co-director) has worked with James Cameron for over sixteen years, assisting Cameron on every one of his feature films since “The Abyss.” In the summer of 1988, Quale joined the art department on “The Abyss,” where he helped Cameron design complex action sequences by building and videotaping study models of various sets with a miniature camera.

After a summer working at George Lucas’Industrial Light & Magic, Quale was called back to work on “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” where Cameron enlisted his help in shooting several second unit sequences. In 1992, Quale served as Director of Photography on the Miramax film “The Crude Oasis.”

That same year, Quale performed a multitude of duties on “The Abyss: Special Edition,” including picture editing and the insertion of all the new music. When “Titanic” first loomed on the horizon in 1995, Cameron recruited Steve to join his select crew for an expedition aboard the Russian research ship, Academik Keldysh, filming a dozen dives to the wreck. When principal photography began two years later,

Quale directed a large second unit shoot that by many standards was bigger than most first units. He was responsible for sequences in the Engine Room and the Boiler Room, including all of the below-deck flooding shots as the Titanicstrikes the iceberg. Quale also supervised the visual effects for the Engine Room sequence, including the most radical handheld motion-tracking green screen composites ever attempted at that time.

To further enhance the reality of the Titanic’s engine room, Quale flew to San Francisco to shoot aboard a World War II-era Liberty ship, seamlessly integrating this footage with shots of a 1/14 scale model and digitally composited green-screen actors. The film won an Oscar ®for its visual effects.

After “Titanic,” Quale continued his second unit work on Universal’s “Rocky and Bullwinkle” and Disney’s “The Haunted Mansion.” In addition, he has shot commercials and music videos, working with such artists as Eminem, Dream and Montell Jordan. In 2001, Quale directed the Lions Gate/ABC movie “Superfire,” for which he created a blazing inferno in the woods of New Zealand.

The film, with its spectacular fire sequences, was nominated for an Emmy for Best Visual Effects. “Aliens of the Deep” is Quale’s return to open-water photography aboard the Keldysh, and a chance for him to express his long-standing passion for outer space.

ANDREW WIGHT(producer) is a modern-day underwater explorer and filmmaker who, prior to filmmaking, began his career in agricultural science and has worked in scientific research. He is a respected scuba- and cave-diving instructor, commercial helicopter pilot and farmer who left a successful marketing career with Cooper’s Animal Health veterinary company to enter the world of adventure filmmaking.

An Australian Geographic Adventurer of the Year medal winner, Wight initiated and lead the record-breaking Pannikin Plain Cave Diving Expedition into Australia’s remote southwest in 1988. Andrew produced the award-winning documentary of this expedition, “Nullarbor Dreaming.”

Andrew has lead expeditions to dive and explore some of the most remote and bizarre regions of the world, including Mid Atlantic, Alaska, Mexico, Canada, Florida, Cuba, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, New Caladonia, Fiji, New Zealand, Gaudaloupe Islands, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Belize, Dry Tortugas, Navassa Islands, Costa Rica, Coccos Island, Galapagos Islands, Lord Howe Islands, Titanic, Bismarckand Australia. Wight has produced 40 documentary films since 1988.

His company, Great Wight Productions, has gained an international reputation for making award-winning adventure television programs. His programs are screened in over 60 countries around the world. Wight served as line producer for the 3-D IMAX ®film “Ghosts of the Abyss,” directed by James Cameron and released by Disney and Walden Media in 2002.

He was also the producer for the two-hour television special directed by James Cameron for the Discovery Channel focusing on the sunken battleship Bismarck. Before proposing to his wife, documentary filmmaker ED W. MARSH(creative producer/editor) explained that “being a filmmaker is kind of like being in the merchant marine. There will be long periods of time where I’m ‘at sea’on a project and you won’t see too much of me.”

He never guessed how literally true this statement would become. Marsh began working with James Cameron on “The Abyss,” editing scenes for the motion picture as well as documenting its production, a project that culminated in 1992’s “Under Pressure: Making ‘The Abyss,’” a frank and uncensored look at what many in the film industry still consider to be “the toughest shoot in film history.”

Marsh also cut the trailer for the film, earning him his first Hollywood Reporter Key Art Award. Since that time, Marsh has been involved in some way with most of Cameron’s productions, cutting trailers, writing behind-the-scenes books or directing documentary projects in association with the productions. Marsh’s book, James Cameron’s “Titanic,”reached #1 on the New York Timesnon-fiction best-seller list at the peak of the movie’s popularity and remained there for several weeks. When Cameron set his sights on documentary filmmaking it made sense, then, to enlist Marsh as a core member of his creative team.

At sea, he quickly earned the nickname “Oz” because he was most often heard communicating with the camera teams via radio while he remained unseen, deep in mission control, where he could respond to the live feeds. By the time “Ghosts of the Abyss” was completed, Marsh had helped pioneer several creative and technical methodologies enabling Cameron to combine many different types of media into the comprehensive 3-D presentation of the film.

On “Aliens of the Deep,” Marsh and his editorial team faced the daunting task of finding the story amidst 2,000 hours of footage while striking a balance between the science and the visual. Not surprisingly, that balance was found within the stories and experiences of the participating scientists. Marsh spent many hours directing interviews with these individuals and shaped much of the voice-only narrative from their responses.

“The other challenge we faced was the fact that so many of the ideas Jim wanted to convey with this movie had no visual component,” explains Marsh. “We were constantly looking for visual ways to connect the dots.” It was this style of thinking that led Marsh to create a sequence in which a scientist diving under the water is suddenly floating amidst the stars of deep space—a visual metaphor for Cameron’s central premise.

Outside of his work with Cameron, Marsh has had a variety of assignments ranging from creating the mock news broadcasts for the movie “Independence Day” to documenting organized crime activities in various parts of the world for PBS. He is currently researching a variety of projects, none of which (he’s happy to tell his wife) require much time at sea.

VINCENT PACE (director of photography) is able to go beyond the limitations of conventional filmmaking in this challenging field. Pace served on the underwater team filming Cameron’s “The Abyss” in 1988. He subsequently founded Pace Technologies and has become the premiere supplier of underwater lights, film and video camera housings and equipment.

He codeveloped the Reality Camera System and its deep-ocean housings, and worked as Directory of Photography on “Ghosts of the Abyss,” the first IMAX ®film to be shot using digital cameras. He subsequently developed the macro optics which have allowed the revolutionary deep-ocean 3-D photography of animals seen in “Aliens of the Deep,” on which he served as Director of Photography and deep-ocean camera operator.

He is currently finishing engineering on the second generation of the Reality Camera System, called RCS-2, in preparation for a major feature film to be directed by James Cameron in 3-D. Pace is a pioneering leader in HD cinematography and combines engineering with creativity in this exciting new age of digital cinema. As a Producer and Visual Effects Supervisor for Jim Cameron’s “Ghosts of the Abyss,”

CHUCK COMISKY helped to realize Cameron’s continued foray into new technologies. The film was captured 100 percent with 24P HD cameras and equipment developed by Cameron and Vince Pace and exhibited in 15 perf. 70mm IMAX. ®

Chuck also produced the “Terminator 2 3-D” theme park film for Cameron while supervising the visual effects at Digital Domain and directing the commercial for the hugely popular attraction. Recent producing credits include Universal Florida’s 2001 remounted theme park attraction “Poseidon’s Fury” (Film Producer) and Supervising Producer for 1999’s “The Nuttiest Nutcracker,” an all-CGI, 3-D animated 1-hour CBS special.

Starting in 1979, Comisky produced and directed the visual effects for “Battle Beyond the Stars”—a highly successful film for Roger Corman. He pioneered the digital compositing of film elements for “Jaws 3-D” and supervised the refinement and development of twin camera stereo 3-D visual effects (“Terminator 2 3-D”). For New Line Pictures’“Blade,” “Rush Hour,” and “Nightmare on Elm St. 5,” Paramount Pictures’“Drop Zone” and “The Addams Family,” plus Columbia’s “The Last Action Hero,” Comisky designed visual effects, directed effects photography and sat with digital artists, guiding them to the results expected by the film’s directors.

Hired in post production to troubleshoot visual effects budget and scheduling issues for “The Crow” (1 and 3), “Space Camp,” and “The Blob,” Chuck brought all projects in on time and within budget. Other production credits include Production Executive for an ABC prime-time pilot “Wayside School” directed by Tommy Schlamme, and Production Manager for Bill Condon’s first feature, “Sister Sister.” Jim Cameron hired Chuck to produce the teaser/trailer for “Terminator 2.”

Comisky continues to supervise and produce high-definition and digital effects including 2-D/3-D animation, compositing, and optical effects. Directors worked with range from Arthur Hiller to Bill Condon, Bret Rattner, John Badham, Michael Ritchie, and James Cameron, among others.

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