Interview with Lucy V. Hay of Bang2Write

It’s possible Anne-Cecile Ville brushed past Lucy Hay during the London Screenwriters’ Festival last year, where Lucy’s one of the event organisers and the Head Reader for the contests and other initiatives. Even if they haven’t met, I sense a similar determination emanating from Lucy, an energetic and outspoken woman who also lives in the UK. Lucy generously found some time in her busy schedule to speak to me on Skype about her experiences working in the UK film industry.

Whatever you do, do it well.

Lucy Hay in action.

Lucy Hay in action.

The ‘V’ must stand for vivacious

Lucy, who also goes by the moniker Bang2Write, is passionate about writing, her children and being true to herself and her blog readers. She has her hands and voice in a variety of projects, from being a non-fiction writer (e.g. Writing And Selling Drama Screenplays), novelist (e.g. The Decision: Jasmine’s Story), speaker, blogger, producer, script editor, Head Reader for the London Screenwriters’ Festival…and many other roles. Suffice it to say she’s organised and disciplined. As the mother of three young children, two girls and a boy, she’s teaching them a strong work ethic that’ll ensure their own success when they grow up. She’s also a mentor and outspoken advocate about gender politics and feminism.

Supporting women scriptwriters

What are your thoughts about being a female scriptwriter in today’s film industry? 

LucyHayBook1I work with a lot of scriptwriters. As a script editor and associate producer, I want women to feel safe with me, to know their stories are taken seriously.

Generally I find that women aren’t very confident and don’t believe in themselves; they don’t grab onto opportunities like male writers do. For example, a male writer’s script might be rejected, but when they’re asked to show something else they send it right away, whereas a woman only hears the negative and doesn’t follow up.

Some people in the industry think women should be more like men. I don’t agree. Generally women have different needs and interests, but it’s also important to realise that women writers don’t necessarily write women characters better than male writers.

Other myths I can’t stand include things like women are not good at genre, or that they only want to write drama. Personally, I like blockbusters, macho stories, murderers, strippers—apparently this means I have ‘male’ tastes, but I think a story is a story. I also enjoy romantic comedies, some are excellent pieces of work, but I don’t see how they are ‘female’ stories any more than I see how blockbusters are ‘male’ stories. It’s about personality and preferences rather than about gender.

You have been involved with the London Screenwriters’ Festival (LSF) since the start in 2010. Do you think attending events like this will help women improve their negotiating skills and gain more confidence?

Yes, definitely. We [the LSF team] wanted to make sure we got more female participants. Many women are also the primary caregivers who probably also have day jobs on top of their media work. Previous festivals like LSF were held during the week, which made it difficult for many women to attend. We make sure our festival is on the weekend — last year around half the delegates attending were women and I think the year before it was even higher.

Have you had any outright discrimination against you?

Yes I have. I think everyone gets discriminated against and marginalised to a certain extent. There are double standards that get on my wick. For example, if a woman brings her kid with her to work, she’s asked if there’s a child care issue; people act as if she’s less reliable. Whereas if a man turns up with their kid everyone fawns over him saying ‘oh, he’s such a good dad’. That drives me nuts.

I’m a plain talker, I’m straight forward. My behaviour isn’t that different from a man’s but people define it differently. A friend of mine is just as aggressive as me—he’s a legend and I’m just difficult. There’s sexism everywhere, and it’s not just men, women do it, too.

Supporting women directors

Lucy’s expertise in social media and story telling are what she brings to the mostly genre films she’s been involved with to date. She’s collaborated twice on features with writer/director J.K. Amalou (so far) as she loves genre films, plus she is into short films as well.

What appeals to you about making short films?

There are so many opportunities to tell the stories not often told in feature films; in general you can take more risks with your characters and story. Last year I was involved with a short called Cancer Hairwhich took some of these risks. The film is a comedy about needing to wear a wig on a date because of recent cancer treatment. Cancer is not funny. I’m a cancer survivor myself. Gail Hackston, the writer/director, approached me because of my support for female directors and because of my personal experience with cancer. What appealed to me is that Gail wanted to make an uplifting film, not your typical short about suicide and depression.

The film won a lot of awards…I think short film can do really well, that it’s an alternative point of view that people have not seen before. People involved in TV and longer movies have to be more commercially minded and perhaps cannot take as many risks as Gail did.

Creating the future

If any of your three children decide they want to become a writer, what advice would you give them?

[laughing] Become a novelist, you earn more money. I was the first in the family to go into media, but my mother said ‘whatever you do, do it well. Also under promise and over deliver and be the one that people know they can count on. You have to be your own biggest fan, you need to believe in yourself because it’s not a question of ‘why me?’ it’s a question of ‘why not me?’ Even if you fail spectacularly, that’s better than not trying at all.

Contact Lucy

* All images in this blog belong to Lucy V. Hay.

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