Biography: Terry Hayes

writer, producer

Terry Hayes' filmography at the Internet Movie Database

Terry Hayes was born in England in 1952, but emigrated to Australia as a child. Formerly a journalist and a radio producer, his first involvement in filmmaking was as the author of the Mad Max I novelization. This was how he first met George Miller. "[Miller] seemed to like some things about the noveliztion, and asked me if I wanted to write screenplays with him, so we started doing things together. [...] I would work from 5 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the radio station. Then, from 3 p.m. to about 10 p.m., I was writing scripts with George. I don't think they were that good, but we seemed to be learning a lot, so I eventually gave up my other work and became a full time script writer."

Hayes went on to co-write Mad Max II and Mad Max III, while also putting on another hat as co-producer of Mad Max III. He has served as writer/producer for subsequent Kennedy Miller productions as well, content with his dual roles. "Always when you're writing, you must give a mind to what is achievable. Any damn fool can write that Ben Hur wins the chariot race. Part of the discipline, the fun and any talent that you might have, is how to achieve things cleverly, without spending millions of dollars on special effects. [...] You know the conventional way of filmmaking --- someone sits down and writes a script. A director gets it and turns it into something that he feels happy with. Then, the writer and director have a terrible argument and swear that they'll never talk to each other again. The producer steps in and takes sides with somebody, and then quickly find out that the director is a lunatic and wants to spend twice as much money as they can afford. Everyone ends up hating each other and it's a total adversary relationship!

"I believe that it's important to remember that the script is just a tool in the making of a film. It's somebody's best guess as to what will constitute a good film, what will be dramatic, what will work as scenes. Now, in the actual process of filmmaking, many things change, which will either enhance or detract from the film. For instance, one of your major actors might not be well one day, or maybe he's having difficulty with certain lines, or special effects can't get certain things going, so you adjust. This happens on every film. Basically, there's only one way you really save money on films, and that's by cutting the script. And I know where you can cut and when it really starts to hurt --- where you might start to lose the patient because you're cutting so seriously. It's filmmaking, it's not writing or directing. That's the great thing about the way we [Miller and Hayes] work. The film I eventually see is one in which I've been involved in the decision-making process all along. I know why things have been changed. I'm not in that unhappy position in which many writers find themselves, whereby they write a script, they imagine what the film will look like, and then, when they see it, it doesn't relate to what they wrote because they weren't there on the set every day, seeing why decisions were made."

"When you tell stories, there's only one thing that matters --- the audience. If you're a storyteller, then unless you have an audience, you're a race horse without a jockey, a car without a driver. It's a symbiotic relationship.

"What worth [a film] has as a story won't be determined by me or any of the people making the movie. It will be determined by the audience. I'm not talking about box office, but about their attitudes and what they get from the film. It goes out there, all alone as a film. You give it your best shot, but it's totally out of your control. All you can do is do the best you can, and hope that the film hits a note in that collective unconscious, that it's a story that people want to hear. Because if it's not, then there's no way out."
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