At age 12, wrote a short story that was reportedly a precursor for "The Abyss"
Started building models and experimenting with 16mm film
Made first film "Niagara: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Falls"
Enrolled in college to study physics
Dropped out, married a waitress, and worked as a truck driver for the local school district
Inspired to become a filmmaker after seeing "Star Wars"
Raised private financing, directed, shot, edited and built miniatures for first short film, "Xenogenesis"
Joined Roger Corman's New World Pictures as a special effects person, and later became art director and production designer
Credited as set dresser assistant on "Happy Birthday, Gemini"
First film as art director, "Battle Beyond the Stars"
Feature debut as production designer and second unit director, "Galaxy of Terror"
Feature directing debut, "Piranha II: The Spawning/Piranha II: Flying Killers"
Wrote first draft of screenplay for what would become "The Terminator"; sold rights to producer Gale Anne Hurd for $1 on the condition that he would direct
Gained recognition with feature screenwriting and directing debut, "The Terminator"; co-wrote with producer and future wife Gale Anne Hurd
Co-wrote (with Sylvester Stallone) the hugely successful "Rambo: First Blood II"
Co-wrote and directed the sequel to "Alien" titled "Aliens," again starring Sigourney Weaver
Wrote and directed "The Abyss," which used cutting-edge effects technology
Formed production company Lightstorm Entertainment Inc.
Produced, directed and scripted the blockbuster sequel "Terminator 2: Judgment Day"
Lightstorm signed an exclusive five-year, 12-picture distribution deal with 20th Century Fox
Founded the special effects company Digital Domain with Stan Winston and Scott Ross to further develop the field of digital FX
Released a "restored" print of "The Abyss" including approximately 27 minutes of scenes omitted from the original
Wrote, produced, and directed the action-comedy "True Lies"; the first film release under Lightstorm Entertainment
Provided the story and served as a producer on "Strange Days"; directed by ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow
Became the first feature film director to shoot underwater footage of the wreck of the Titanic; used a specially-designed, state-of-the-art camera encased in titanium; footage was incorporated into the feature "Titanic"
Co-edited, co-produced, wrote and directed the lavish spectacle "Titanic"; reported to be the most expensive film made to date (budgeted at $200 million); went on to become the top grossing film in history; film received 14 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Editing; awarded 11 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director, tying the record set by 1959's "Ben-Hur"
With Stan Winston, resigned from board of Digital Domain
Executive produced and co-wrote the Fox drama series "Dark Angel"; helmed the finale of the 2001-02 season
Co-produced (with Jean-Michel Cousteau) a series of undersea specials for ABC
Appeared as himself on several episodes of the hit HBO comedy "Entourage," directing a big screen version of the comic book hero Aquaman starring Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier)
Returned to directing features with the 3-D sci-fi epic film "Avatar"; earned a Directors Guild nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement and Oscar nominations for Directing, Film Editing and Producing
Completed the world's first solo dive to the deepest-known point on Earth, reaching the bottom of the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench southwest of Guam in a specially designed submarine.