Gale Anne Hurd gets 'Walking Dead' fans' help to get 'Mankiller' made

This was posted by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

"The Walking Dead" executive producer Gale Anne Hurd doesn't just handle big-budget projects but also does small documentaries on the side about Native-American subjects.

Sadly, major movie studios hardly beat down the door for these types of projects so Hurd has to raise money like an independent producer. For her latest documentary "Mankiller" about Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation, she raised some money from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. But it wasn't nearly enough to finish the film.

So in early 2015, she used Kickstarter to raise a little more than $150,000 and included some "Walking Dead' gifts as incentives, including a meal with Melissa McBride (Carol on show) and a shooting range trip with Michael Rooker (Merle). 

It was tough, she said, because you only receive your money if you reach your goal in the time allotted.

"It turns out a lot of the actors have Native-American blood," Hurd said in an interview. "They jumped on it. We had support from Danai Gurira [Michonne], Scott Wilson [Hershel] and Steven Yeun (Glenn.)  And people like Norman Reedus Tweeted it out. It was touch and go. By the end of 30 days, we were slightly overfunded - but not without a lot of sleepless nights."

Hurd has scheduled a free screening of "Mankiller" at 7 p.m. Thursday, September 28 at the Carter Center. ( Details here and you need to RSVP by Tuesday, September 26. ) She will be there. Given "The Walking Dead" shooting schedule, she can't guarantee if any of the cast or crew will be able to join her.

She said Mankiller, who died in 2010 of cancer, was an inspiring figure who faced plenty of sexism but once she was chief, she managed to grow the Cherokee Nation with a focus on economic development, population growth and healthcare.

Hurd felt it was "important to have her story told a time when there is so much political divisiveness in the country."

"Wilma believed  in bipartisanship," she continued, "which is all too rare these days. She was a community activist who united people when needed. I hope people will see the movie and be inspired to reach out across the aisle and realize we can get more things done if we talk to teach other."

She also felt like not enough Native-American stories are told. "History," Hurd said, "is written by the victors. I think it's time for the stories to be told, especially the women. Women are equally revered in many Native-American cultures."

PBS will air the documentary sometime next year.


"Mankiller: Activist, Feminist, Cherokee Chief"

7 p.m. Thursday, September 28

RSVP to by Tuesday, September 26

Carter Center

441 Freedom Pkwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30307

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.