Our behind-the-scenes interviews with Script’s contributors continues with UK’s Hayley McKenzie, author of Script Angel articles. We hope you’re enjoying getting to know them more personally as much as we are!
Meet Hayley McKenzie. Hayley runs Script Angel working as a Development Consultant and Script Editor on feature films and television dramas in the UK and USA. Hayley’s produced feature film script editing credits include Papadopoulos & Sons, Chakara and The Watcher Self. Hayley was Development Executive at ITV Studios and script edited primetime UK shows Casualty (BBC) and Blue Murder (ITV).
What was the first movie you ever remember seeing or the one that made the most impact on you as a child?
The Elephant Man – Directed by David Lynch (1980) – I cried, a lot!
What’s your favorite movie of all time?
A Matter of Life and Death – Directed by Powell & Pressburger (1946)
What word or scenario do you never want to see in a screenplay again?
Opening the screenplay with the protagonist waking up, realising he/she’s late, rushing out. Every version just feels like a pale imitation of the opening of Four Weddings and a Funeral!
What profession did your parents want you to have?
Anything but this! Film and TV were frowned upon as a frivolous waste of time in our house. My parents probably wanted me to be something worthy like a scientist or teacher. I was really good at science at school and did seriously want to be a forensic pathologist for a while in my teens. I was also really serious about archaeology and used to go on digs in my school holidays. But in the end stories won out.
What profession, other than your current one, would you like to try if you could have a do-over?
Forensic pathologist – I love the attention to detail required and the piecing together of clues.
What drew you to the entertainment industry and specifically, why did you want to help writers?
I studied English Literature and Media at University and had been interning on film & TV shoots since I was 15 years old. After graduating I started working my way up the film & TV production management ladder – Runner, 3rd AD, 1st AD, etc. Then I began to realise that all the interesting decisions about what we were shooting had been made months ago by writers, script editors, directors and producers. When I discovered what script editors did I knew I’d found my ideal job. Script editing is the perfect balance for me between creative and analytical. Although I have original ideas, I’m definitely better at helping other people realise theirs.
Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I script edited for Verity Lambert – the very first producer of Doctor Who.
What do you wish you knew about the industry before you jumped in?
I’m glad I didn’t know just how hard it would be to carve out and sustain a career in it – if I had, I might never have even tried! Sometimes it’s better not to know the odds stacked against you. If you do what you’re passionate about and do it well, you can be one of the lucky few to call this industry your career.
If you could impart only one piece of knowledge onto writers, what would it be?
The industry is looking for bold new writing voices, even if the films getting made don’t perhaps always reflect that. Discover your writing voice, be confident in the stories you want to tell and the way in which you want to tell them and you will find your supporters, champions and audience.
If you could go back in time and talk to your 18-year-old self, what advice would you give?
I’d tell her; you’re making all the right choices, following your dream, so don’t worry what others think about what you’re doing.