Helmer takes plunge on Fox
By: Michael Fleming
James Cameron is plunging back into deep waters.
Cameron will direct a film at 20th Century Fox about the love story between freediver Francisco "Pipin" Ferreras and wife Audrey Mestre.
After learning the extreme sport of freediving under the tutelage of her Cuban-born husband and breaking his record, Mestre died last year as she tried to better her world mark of descending 557.7 feet while holding a single breath of air in her lungs.
Lightstorm Entertainment has acquired Ferreras' life rights, along with the autobiography the diver is writing for ReganBooks, and a recent Gary Smith-penned Sports Illustrated cover story titled "The Deadly Dive." Cameron will produce with Lightstorm partners Jon Landau and Rae Sanchini.
Cameron recently directed the 3-D documentary "Ghosts of the Abyss," but he hasn't directed a scripted feature since setting the all-time box office record and winning the best picture Oscar for 1997's "Titanic."
Cameron will likely hire a scribe while he helms a scripted feature on an undisclosed topic he plans to shoot using the 3-D technology he employed for "Ghosts of the Abyss."
But Cameron will be in full scuba gear Oct. 12 to record an event that will be seminal to the Ferreras film. The diver plans to attempt to match his wife's world record in Cabo San Lucas, the site where the Cuban diver first met the French-born aspiring marine biologist and taught her to dive. Ferreras is making his first freedive attempt since January 2000, when he set a then-world record of 531.4 feet -- a mark obliterated by his wife before her fatal attempt to surpass it.
Much in demand
Since SI published the cover story, Ferreras has been pursued by moviemakers. There was talk of a rights deal with producer Barry Josephson. Josephson is expected to be involved in a producing capacity, but Ferreras decided to take the movie plunge with Cameron. Judith Regan, who's publishing the autobio, will be aboard as exec producer.
"The amazing love and passion that Pipin and Audrey shared for each other and the sea moved us all, and Jim knew immediately that he wanted to be the filmmaker who told their story," Sanchini said.
Ferreras first met Cameron as the director was about to depart to make his latest deep-sea docu about life on the ocean floor.