Debra Hill

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Debra Hill
Born(1950-11-10)November 10, 1950
DiedMarch 7, 2005(2005-03-07) (aged 54)
OccupationFilm producer, screenwriter
Years active1972–2005

Debra Hill (November 10, 1950 – March 7, 2005) was an American film producer and screenwriter, best known for producing various works of John Carpenter.

She also co-wrote four of his films: Halloween, The Fog, Escape from New York and Escape from L.A. They also wrote and produced Halloween II together, which Carpenter did not direct.

Early life[edit]

Hill was born in Haddonfield, New Jersey and grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[1] In 1975 she started as a production assistant on adventure documentaries, and progressed through jobs as a script supervisor, assistant director and second unit director. Hill first worked with John Carpenter in 1975, as the script supervisor and assistant editor of Assault on Precinct 13. This led not only to further professional collaborations between Hill and Carpenter, but also marked the beginning of their personal relationship.


In 1978, she and director Carpenter co-wrote the horror movie Halloween. Following its success, Hill and Carpenter worked together on Halloween II (1981) and Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982). Their other credits together include: The Fog (1980), Escape from New York (1981) and its sequel, Escape from L.A. (1996). In 1986, Hill formed an independent production company with her friend Lynda Obst. Together, they produced Adventures in Babysitting, Heartbreak Hotel, and The Fisher King. In 1988, she entered a contract with Walt Disney Pictures under which she produced Gross Anatomy, short films for the Walt Disney theme park, and an NBC special for Disneyland's 35th anniversary. She also produced The Dead Zone (1983), Head Office (1985), and Clue (1985).[2]

She was honored by Women in Film in 2003 with the Crystal Award.[3] She recalled the transition from being called "sweetheart" and "darling" in her early years as a producer to the respectful "ma'am" many years later on the DVD commentary for Escape From New York with production designer Joe Alves.[4]

Hill helped support talent in the film industry, and a number of Hill's associates went on to later success in film. For example, James Cameron, the filmmaker, once worked for Hill in the visual effects department. Jeffrey Chernov was Hill's second assistant director and went on to become an executive producer of Black Panther.[5]

Friends and colleagues commented that Hill became frustrated with the film industry in that the industry did not welcome more women as directors. Even with the lack of support, Hill persisted with her work.[5]


Hill was diagnosed with colon cancer in February 2004.[6] Despite her diagnosis and eventual amputation of her leg, Hill continued to work on several projects.[7] She worked with John Carpenter and actor Kurt Russell on a comic adaptation of the Snake Plissken character, as well as a proposed Snake Plissken video game.[8]

In 2005, Hill reunited with Carpenter to produce the remake of The Fog and was working on the Oliver Stone film World Trade Center[9] when she died of cancer on March 8, 2005.[10] After her death, Carpenter told the Associated Press that working with Hill was "one of the greatest experiences of my life – she had a passion for not just movies about women or women's ideas but films for everybody".[11]



Title Year Producer Writer Director Notes
Halloween 1978 Yes Yes John Carpenter Cameo
The Fog 1980 Yes Yes John Carpenter Сameo
Escape from New York 1981 Yes No John Carpenter Voice cameo
Halloween II 1981 Yes Yes Rick Rosenthal
Halloween III: Season of the Witch 1982 Yes No Tommy Lee Wallace
The Dead Zone 1983 Yes No David Cronenberg
Clue 1985 Yes No Jonathan Lynn
Head Office 1985 Yes No Ken Finkleman
Adventures in Babysitting 1987 Yes No Chris Columbus
Big Top Pee-wee 1988 Yes No Randal Kleiser
Heartbreak Hotel 1988 Yes No Chris Columbus
The Lottery 1989 Yes No Garry Marshall Short film
Gross Anatomy 1989 Yes No Thom Eberhardt
The Fisher King 1991 Yes No Terry Gilliam
Escape from L.A. 1996 Yes Yes John Carpenter
Chow Bella 1998 Executive No Gavin Grazer
Crazy in Alabama 1999 Yes No Antonio Banderas
The Fog 2005 Yes No Rupert Wainwright
World Trade Center 2006 Yes No Oliver Stone
Other credits
Title Year Script
Other Notes
Goodbye, Norma Jean 1976 Yes
Assault on Precinct 13 1976 Yes Assistant editor
Satan's Cheerleaders 1977 Yes
Bare Knuckles 1977 Yes
Charge of the Model T's 1977 No Production assistant / second assistant director
Hi-Riders 1978 Yes
Goodbye, Franklin High 1978 Yes
Hanging on a Star 1978 Yes
Tales from the Mist: Inside 'The Fog' 2002 No Archival material Documentary short film


Title Year Director Producer Writer Notes
Adventures in Babysitting 1989 No Executive No Unsold pilot
The Magic World of Disney 1990 No Executive No Episode: "Disneyland's 35th Anniversary Celebration"
Monsters 1990 Yes No No Episode: "Far Below"
Dream On 1993 Yes No No Episode: "Home Sweet Homeboy"
Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman 1993 No Yes No Television film
Rebel Highway 1994 No Yes Yes 10 episodes (written 2 episodes)
Other credits
Title Year Script
Other Notes
The Streets of San Francisco 1972 Yes Urknown episodes
Father Knows Best: Home for Christmas 1977 Yes Television film
'Halloween': A Cut Above the Rest 2003 No Still photographer Television documentary film


  1. ^ via Associated Press. "Debra Hill, 54, Film Producer Who Helped Create 'Halloween,' Dies", The New York Times, March 8, 2005. Accessed December 18, 2007. "Born in Haddonfield, N.J., Ms. Hill grew up in Philadelphia."
  2. ^ "Women in Horror Month: Debra Hill, the Mother of "HALLOWEEN"".
  3. ^ "OPEN DOORS - The Legacy of Debra Hill Continues To Change The Face Of Hollywood". May 2, 2016. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
  4. ^ DVD feature length commentary for Escape From New York
  5. ^ a b Ryzik, Melena (May 27, 2019). "Debra Hill". New York Times.
  6. ^ "'Everyone over 50 needs their colon checked'". NBC Universal. March 14, 2005. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
  7. ^ Eller, Claudia (July 27, 2006). "Producer of 9/11 Movie Had Her Own Tragic Story". LA Times. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
  8. ^ Lussier, Germain (October 1, 2013). "See Concept Art and Gameplay From Cancelled Snake Plissken Game and Anime Series". Slash Film. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
  9. ^ Welsh, James Michael; Whaley, Donald M. (2013). The Oliver Stone Encyclopedia. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 279. ISBN 9780810883529.
  10. ^ The Associated Press (March 8, 2005). "Debra Hill, 54, Film Producer Who Helped Create 'Halloween,' Dies". NY Times. The New York Times Company. p. 21. Retrieved August 11, 2019.
  11. ^ Presecky, Georgi (October 22, 2018). "Laurie Strode's Legacy: Remembering Halloween Screenwriter Debra Hill". The Mary Sue. Retrieved August 11, 2019.

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