Gale Anne Hurd Paves Way For Women Role in Production

Gale Anne Hurd 

Producer, Writer

Notable Films

  • Aliens
  • Armageddon
  • Fear the Walking Dead
  • Punisher: War Zone
  • The Abyss
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008)
  • The Punisher
  • The Terminator
  • The Walking Dead
  • Terminator 2:  Judgement Day
  • Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
  • Tremors

Overview

Gale Ann Hurd was born on October 25, in Los Angeles, California.  She graduated from Stanford University, and joined New World Pictures as executive assistant to President of the company, Roger Corman. In 1982, she formed her own production company, Pacific Western Productions. She produced several box-office hits, including “The Terminator”, “Aliens”, and “The Abyss”, all of which were directed by James Cameron. Hurd is now the secretary for the Producers Guild of America.  

The Films

Gale Anne Hurd is the face of many successful films. Her most notable and successful works are:

  • “Aliens” (1986)

Fifty seven years after Ellen Ripley survived her disastrous ordeal, her escape vessel is recovered after drifting across the galaxy as she slept in cryogenic stasis. Back on earth, nobody believed her story about the “Aliens” on the planet LV-426. After the “Company” orders the colony on LV-426 to investigate, however, all communication with the colony is lost. The Company enlists Ripley to aid a team of tough, rugged space marines on a rescue mission to the now partially terraformed planet to find out if there are aliens or survivors. As the mission unfolds, Ripley will be forced to come to grips with her worst nightmare, but even as she does, she finds that the worst is yet to come.

  • “Terminator” (1984)

A cyborg is sent from the future on a deadly mission. He has to kill Sarah Connor, a young woman whose life will have a great significance in years to come. Sarah has only one protector – Kyle Reese – also sent from the future. The Terminator uses his exceptional intelligence and strength to find Sarah, but is there any way to stop the seemingly indestructible cyborg?

  • “The Walking Dead” (2010)

Rick Grimes is a former Sheriff’s deputy who has been in a coma for several months after being shot while on duty. When he awakens he discovers that the world has been ravished by a zombie epidemic of apocalyptic proportions, and that he seems to be the only person still alive. After returning home to discover his wife and son missing, he heads for Atlanta to search for his family. Narrowly escaping death at the hands of the zombies on arrival in Atlanta he is aided by another survivor, Glenn, who takes Rick to a camp outside the town. There Rick finds his wife Lori and his son, Carl, along with his partner/best friend Shane and a small group of survivors who struggle to fend off the zombie hordes; as well as competing with other surviving groups who are prepared to do whatever it takes to survive in this harsh new world.

In an interview with MovieScope, Gale Anne Hurd talks about building a successful career on the big and small screens.

The Interview

Firsthand, Gale Anne Hurd makes a powerful statement:

“I think that it’s difficult being a woman in this industry because when you are forceful, you’re called a bitch…or worse. On the other hand, if you don’t stand up for yourself, you are perceived as someone who shouldn’t be in a position of power. It’s a delicate balance.”

This goes back to what I said over and over again; about women’s role in the horror industry. Women are expected to “maintain” certain roles in horror. Kind of like the maids of the horror industry. They’re the sweet girls, the damsels in distress, the victims. Today, more and more women are changing the game. Gale Anne Hurd is one of them. Several questions were asked in the interview, but three of them caught my attention:

MovieScope: When you graduated you joined Roger Corman’s New World Pictures, an experience you’ve described as ‘giving you a world view that women could do anything’…

Hurd: Roger Corman and Julie Corman his wife, as well as [CEO] Barbara Boyle, had a gender blind company. And that was not the case anywhere else, I can assure you, in the 1970s. So it gave me the confidence and the self-belief that I could succeed.

I think Julie was a very strong influence on [Corman]. She was producing for him at the time. And Roger has always been an outsider to the way that things are done. He started the careers of so many people; Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, James Cameron, you name it. He didn’t follow other peoples’ rules. And he saw that women, if you gave them responsibility, were not only successful but they also tended to work harder for less pay.

“And he saw that women, if you gave them responsibility, were not only successful but they also tended to work harder for less pay.” This is a commonplace of women in the horror industry. At a time when not much responsibility was expected of them. Just a vessel. Today, more and more women are taking leading roles in the horror industry. Fiercer acting roles, directing and producing roles.

MovieScope: After you made The Terminator, you went on to make Aliens but you still ran into people who said you couldn’t do such a film…

Hurd: Yes, but that’s not surprising because The Terminator was looked at as ‘Oh well that’s just a low budget film, and [Aliens] is a big studio feature’ As if there was a different set of skills needed. The skillset is transferable! But I also think there’s a perception of what a producer should be, and it probably isn’t a 100-pound 5ft 4 woman who is not yet 30. And that was who I was back then. It was certainly a difficult film, but I had the skillset. I was very lucky, because not only did Roger Corman back me up, but the head of The Completion Guarantee Company, a gentleman by the name of Lindsley Parsons, called Fox and said ‘She can do this. I can vouch for her’. You need support from everyone that you work with, male and female.

Women in the horror industry are always stereotyped. They’re not good enough for the “big leagues”. Everyone needs connections to get into the movie industry, but women need more than just connections. They need the smarts, the talent, the ambition, and the dedication. Gale Anne Hurd is proof that women can handle the work and succeed. Through her films, she’s given women in horror a positive, uplifting outlook universally.

MovieScope: Has the attitude to you as a female producer changed over the course of your career?

Hurd: It hasn’t changed for all women. I think it’s changed for women who have a track record, and that’s something that I hope will change. It’s still completely unfortunate that so few women are able to direct.

I think that it’s difficult because when you are forceful, you’re called a bitch, or worse. On the other hand, if you don’t stand up for yourself, you are perceived as someone who shouldn’t be in a position of power. It’s a delicate balance, a tightrope that one has to walk to be taken seriously, to be respected, but also to be heard. The most important thing is to work incredibly hard, to have a vision for your career and what you want to achieve and to not take no for an answer!

 

Back to the initial statement; the horror industry is a tough business for women. It’s also unfair because not many women are motivated to do more than just settle for the victim role. The horror industry needs fiercer, leading women, who will take a stand and change the way things are perceived. Horror needs more (pardon my French) “bitches” to take office. Gale Anne Hurd is a prime example that women can be anything they want to be (just the same with men). They just have to want it.

Sources

MovieScope 

 

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