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.

Career[edit]

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]

Health[edit]

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]

Filmography[edit]

Films[edit]

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

Television[edit]

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

References[edit]

  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"". Archived from the original on February 5, 2015.
  3. ^ "OPEN DOORS - The Legacy of Debra Hill Continues To Change The Face Of Hollywood". producersguild.org. 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". The New York Times.
  6. ^ "'Everyone over 50 needs their colon checked'". Today.com. 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". Los Angeles 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. ^ "Debra Hill, 54, Film Producer Who Helped Create 'Halloween,' Dies". The New York Times. Associated Press. March 7, 2005. 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.

External links[edit]