James Cameron, Kevin Costner bring Hollywood know-how to gulf oil spill

Award-winning director, veteran actor developed valuable technical expertise while working on disaster flicks

To the rescue in the the ugly Gulf of Mexico oil spill saga come two Hollywood luminaries, “Avatar” and "Titanic" director James Cameron and “Waterworld” star Kevin Costner. Each developed valuable technical expertise while working on fictional movies about sea disasters.

Government officials met last week with Cameron, apparently to pick his brain about underwater filming and remote vehicle technologies, reports Matthew Daly of the Associated Press. Cameron, of course, is well-known for the meticulous approach he took when filming underwater sequences in 1997's “Titanic” and 1989's “The Abyss.” The meeting included representatives from the Energy Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Daly reports.

Cameron, for his part, dismissed media critics making light of his technical credentials. In an interview with Andrew C. Revkin for the New York Times’ dot-earth blog, Cameron said he got his first training in remotely piloted submersible ships in 1988 while filming “The Abyss,” and continued on through “Titanic” – working in waters deeper than the location of the destroyed Deepwater well in the Gulf of Mexico.

“I wasn’t wearing a Hollywood hat when I was [in the meeting],” Cameron told Revkin. “Look, I spent about one-and-a-half years making 'Titanic' and another four and-a-half years making 'Avatar,' but the rest of my time in recent years has been spent doing deep-ocean projects.”

Cameron said he has designed pressure-resistant camera housings, lighting towers that could be dropped to the seafloor two miles down and other high-end deep-sea gear.

Meanwhile, beleagured oil giant BP is also looking to actor Costner for help, according to Guy Adams of the The Independent. The Hollywood star and his scientist brother Dan Costner apparently developed a centrifugal oil separator in conjunction with Energy while working on the film “Waterworld,” which was something of a disaster in its own right.

Costner’s stainless steel-device is named the Ocean Therapy, Adams said. Costner has spent 15 years and roughly $26 million of his personal fortune developing the patented machine. It works like a giant vacuum cleaner, sucking up dirty liquid and then using a high-speed centrifuge to separate it into oil and heavier water.

BP and the Coast Guard will give six of the centrifugal oil separators a trial run, writes Juli Weiner at Vanity Fair — “in other words, six degrees of oil separation.”

 

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