SXSW Film Panel: Gale Anne Hurd Keynote

Walking Dead producer on working her way up in Hollywood

“Always do what you love, not just what’s easy.” Producer Gale Anne Hurd, Tuesday’s closing SXSW keynote, is behind many of Hollywood’s seminal genre films including The Terminator (which she also co-wrote) and Aliens. Today she is the executive producer of AMC’s The Walking Dead and its spin-off, Fear the Walking Dead.

Gale Anne Hurd at SXSW (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Her speech – and career – began from the bottom up. A graduate of Stanford University, the would-be producer started as an assistant for director, producer, and screenwriter Roger Corman. “Lesson one: It’s what you know and who you know. Take time to build your network,” she instructed the audience.

From picking up dry cleaning and proofreading scripts, to running marketing campaigns and emptying chemical toilets – which Hurd said is the “handiest tool I ever learned, should there be a zombie apocalypse,” – she worked her way to the producer chair.

“I’ve always been drawn to the story of ordinary people thrust into extraordinary things: Ripley, Sarah Connor, Carol [from TWD],” said Hurd emphasizing her commitment to portraying strong female protagonists. “Female characters like these, and Michonne, are rarely seen. These women are real. They’re complicated, flawed, and relatable for men and women.”

Her dedication to creating space for women in Hollywood extended to the Q&A, promising several first-time filmmakers she’d screen their movies and encouraging audience members to connect with one another. “When there are no role models, become one,” she said, paying homage to her friend, mentor, and producer of the Halloween series, Debra Hill.

“I embrace being a bitch. No guy would ever be called that,” she declared. “I’m still paid less than male producers with less blockbuster hits. But it’s what I love. And it’s not always about money. It’s about fighting. Fighting for other women, and opportunity for them. […] We’re all a community. We’re all in it together.”


Gale Anne Hurd Keynote

Tuesday, March 15, Austin Convention Center

Keep up with all our SXSW coverage at austinchronicle.com/sxsw. Sign up for our South By-specific newsletter at austinchronicle.com/newsletters for news, reviews, and previews delivered to your inbox every day of the Fest. And for the latest tweets, follow @ChronSXSW.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
SXSW Film Gets Latest Apatow, <i>Snowpiercer</i> Premiere
SXSW Film Gets Latest Apatow, Snowpiercer Premiere
Huge lineup includes new docs on St. Vincent, Ozzy, Zappa

Richard Whittaker, Jan. 15, 2020

Austin’s 2020 Film Festival Calendar
Austin’s 2020 Film Festival Calendar
Your print-out-and-keep guide for movie lovers

Richard Whittaker, Jan. 10, 2020

More by Sarah Marloff
Federal Judge Dismisses Local Sexual Assault Survivors’ Lawsuit
Federal Judge Dismisses Local Sexual Assault Survivors’ Lawsuit
Yeakel cites progress by Lege in rejecting claims against APD, D.A.

Feb. 11, 2020

Qmmunity: A Bittersweet Goodbye From Q Editor Sarah Marloff
Qmmunity: A Bittersweet Goodbye From Q Editor Sarah Marloff
Sending it off with Mahogany Project and QueerBomb fundraiser

Feb. 7, 2020

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

SXSW 2016, SXSW Film 2016, SXSW, Gale Anne Hurd, The Walking Dead, Fear the Waking Dead

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle