Vanguard Award

When James Cameron learned he would be this year’s recipient of the Producers Guild’s Vanguard Award for technical achievement, his immediate thought was, “I didn’t realize anyone would notice what I was up to when I wasn’t directing.”

What the Canuck hyphenate responsible for bringing the first two “Terminator” pics and “Aliens” to life has been up to, since setting “Titanic” B.O. records in 1997, is a lot of producing and writing, albeit on lower-scale productions.

His follow-up to “Titanic,” for which he earned an Academy Award, as well as a PGA nod — both of which he shared with Lightstorm Entertainment partner Jon Landau — was a foray into TV with the sci-fi action series “Dark Angel,” starring Jessica Alba, for which he wore all hats.

Next he dove into the sea, producing three documentaries: “Expedition: Bismarck,” a forensic look at the exact circumstances of the warship’s demise; “Ghosts of the Abyss,” which journeys back to the site of one of his great inspirations — the legendary wreck of the Titanic; and the Imax feature “Volcanoes of the Deep Sea.”

Per awards co-chair Debra Hill, when selecting Vanguard honorees, the PGA awards committee considers producers who have “sought and developed new technology in telling a story.”

“Things are changing rapidly in terms of the filmmaking process,” Hill says. “With many (films) people have to invent the very tool it takes to bring the story to the screen. Not only has James Cameron done that with film, but also with his documentaries — he’s even gone down into the ocean.

“He has the vision to find and develop a new technique and bring it to the screen in such a unique way. What he does is awe inspiring.”

Now that Cameron has successfully completed his goal of “building the skill set of a producer” — as he has put it — it seems he is ready to dust off his feature film director’s chair.

Last summer he signed on to helm the untitled 20th Century Fox feature about the relationship between free divers Francisco “Pipin” Ferreras and Audrey Mestre..

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