James Cameron's Aussie "right-hand man" killed in chopper crashThe writer-producer of the most successful Australian movie of 2011 was one of two men killed in a helicopter crash near Nowra on the New South Wales south coast.
Andrew Wight, the writer-producer of the 3D film Sanctum, which was shot on the Gold Coast and took just over $100 million worldwide, was piloting a helicopter with fellow filmmaker Mike DeGruy aboard. Both men were killed in yesterday's crash. The pair are believed to have been working on a feature-length documentary about Papua New Guinea.
The tragedy comes less than three weeks after James Cameron, the director of Titanic and Avatar and an executive producer of Sanctum, announced the opening of a Melbourne office of his 3D production company, Cameron Pace. Wight was the general manager of the office, the first for Cameron's production group outside the US, and was to oversee a push into local 3D production.
DeGruy, 60, specialised in underwater cinematography. Wight, 52, was a keen farmer, with a property at Culcairn, just north of Albury. He remarried at 50 and became a father for the first time about a year ago.
The wreckage following Saturday's helicopter crash at Jaspers Brush.
Wight was a keen helicopter pilot, diver and explorer. His screenplay for Sanctum was based on his own near-death experience while potholing in the 3.2-kilometre-long Pannikin Plains cave system beneath the Nullarbor Plain in 1988. It was his second stab at telling the story, the first being the documentary Nullarbor Dreaming, which aired on TV in 1989.
It was a shared love of diving that led to the friendship between Wight and Cameron, and in 2001 the Australian began working with Cameron's Earthship Productions on a range of dive-related films - Ghosts of the Abyss, Expedition Bismarck, Aliens of the Deep and Last Mysteries of the Titanic - for IMAX and TV. Wight was also integrally involved in the development of the 3D technology Cameron deployed on Avatar. The cameras used on Sanctum were the very same as those used on Avatar. According to one friend of the Australian, Wight was "James Cameron's right-hand man for years, and knew him intimately".
Wight enjoyed the idea of being able to straddle the two vastly different worlds, the friend, who asked not to be named, added. His death would be "really terrible for the industry, with Australia just being put on the filmmaking map in 3D terms".
DeGruy leaves behind a wife and two children and Wight is survived by his wife and infant.
Karl Quinn @ The Age
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