Meet the Submarine Inventor Who Wants Everyone to Live Under the Sea

Deep-ocean entrepreneur Phil Nuytten gives insight on how he built his submarine empire.

By Jackie Wong

Deep-ocean entrepreneur Phil Nuytten is neither the first nor the last person to tussle with James Cameron on a film set. Acclaimed for directing the two highest-grossing movies of all time (1997’s romantic blockbuster Titanic and 2009’s CG breakthroughAvatar), Cameron is also known for his uncompromising, often polarizing perfectionism. “Jim Cameron and I have bashed heads like you wouldn’t believe,” Nuytten told Motherboard in a recent interview.

He first worked with Cameron on his 1989 science fiction film The Abyss. Nuytco Research Ltd., the Vancouver-based undersea technology and research company Nuytten founded, made the submarines and diving helmets for the film. “I at one point was very annoyed at [Cameron’s] cavalier attitude towards the work that we were doing,” Nuytten said. “We sent a crew down to film The Abyss. We had nine men involved in it. And I refused to set foot on the site because I was mad at him.”The rift might have persisted until today, had the crew not pleaded with Nuytten to reconcile. “So I called him up and said, ‘Okay, we have to stop this kindergarten stuff,” he said. “Let’s be friends.’ We’ve been great friends ever since.” Cameron even purchased one of Nuytco’s famous deep-water submersibles for personal use alongside his yacht, making him one of a handful of luxury customers Nutyco services each year.

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