Behind the Camera

“I want to be remembered as the person who helped us restore faith in ourselves.”
— Wilma Mankiller

When history fails to preserve stories from our past and present, it’s up to us to correct the record. Wilma Mankiller, the first woman elected Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, is omitted from most history books despite ranking among revolutionary leaders like Harriet Tubman or Eleanor Roosevelt. She was an activist and a champion to a nation – and it’s time the world remembers her name. MANKILLER is a documentary celebrating a leader who defied all odds to make a difference for her people. During a time when American Indians found themselves disenfranchised and undervalued by the United States at large, Wilma emerged as a champion of the Cherokee Nation and became its first female Principal Chief in 1985.
MANKILLER is produced by Red-Horse Native Productions and Valhalla Entertainment and is a presentation of Vision Maker Media for PBS, with major funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  Fiscal Sponsorship provided by the International Documentary Association.
Vision Maker Media’s funding for the Research and Development phase was awarded in 2012-2013.  Initial shooting during the Research and Development phase took place in and around Tulsa, Oklahoma in July 2013. Production funding by Vision Maker Media for MANKILLER was announced in mid-2014, and in April 2015, a successful Kickstarter campaign was completed by the producers to finalize project funding. The first phase of production filming took place in Oklahoma, San Francisco, Oakland, New York, San Diego and Los Angeles during the summer and fall of 2015.  Additional funding by Vision Maker Media was awarded in 2016 with additional filming taking place in Oklahoma and Wisconsin in August 2016. Post production and editing is being completed in both San Francisco and Los Angeles. The program will be broadcast on PBS stations in March 2018.