Haily Hall, Wittenberg class of 2011, recently accepted a job as a staff writer on the Netflix show, “The Witcher,” which will air sometime in 2019 or 2020.
As described by Hall, “The Witcher” has a sort of “Game of Thrones” feel.
“’The Witcher’ is a fantasy show, alas ‘Game of Thrones,’ about a monster hunter, a sorceress and a girl who holds the power inside her to bring about the apocalypse,” Hall said. “But, really, it’s a show about three wanderers who are searching for family and find each other. It’s a really beautiful story based on a series of Polish novels that have also been adapted into a hugely popular video game.”
When Hall and her team plan for the show, Hall gathers with fellow Wittenberg grad, Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, who leads the team as a director, otherwise known as the showrunner. Schmidt Hissrich, when Hall first came to the meeting, had already planned out the first episode. The team, however, plans the following eight episodes using white boards.
Once the white boards have been numbered, the team begins pitching, which is termed blue sky-ing. According to Hall, essentially anything goes.
“Maybe a character gets a gruesome disease. Maybe a hero falls in love with the villain,” Hall said. “Really, your only goal when you’re blue sky pitching is to think of things that make sense for the characters that have been established in the pilot and that are helpful in getting us to the place where we want those characters to end.”
Hall knew early on in her Wittenberg career what she wanted to do post-graduation.
“I took a summer screenwriting class with Schmidt Hissrich and her then-fiancé, now-husband, Mike Hissrich, [which was] taught by [Michael McClelland], and it literally changed my life,” Hall said. “That’s when I knew I wanted to be a TV writer.”
Hall graduated in 2011 from Witt, moving out to California with two close friends, Parker Neff and Patrick Bierut.
“I moved out here with [Neff and Bierut], who both work in the industry and are working their way up the ladder, and I recently became close with Camilla Quinones [‘17] who is grinding at CAA, the biggest talent agency in the world,” Hall said.
After moving out with Neff and Bierut, Hall began her career working in advertisement, then transitioned into a position as a writer’s production assistant on the show, “Power.”
Besides working on “The Witcher,” Hall has been busy working on pitches of her own.
“I wrote a pitch for a show idea and shopped it around with actor/director Peter Horton and production company Parkes+MacDonald, and Starz bought it,” Hall said. “Which means I’m about to get paid to write a pilot that will potentially become a TV show someday. When [Horton] called me to say Starz had bought the pitch, I was driving and nearly had a wreck I was so excited.”
To those pursuing a similar career path, Hall has three pieces of advice.
“I’d say this career takes three things: talent, the right attitude and luck,” Hall said. “You might have them in equal parts, or you might have a whole lot of one and a little bit of the other two. Hone your talent and check your attitude as much as you possibly can, and keep your fingers crossed. And be brave. That’s the biggest one. This is a dream job, so if you don’t have the courage to chase your dreams, it’s not going to happen.”
Hall cited that her inspiration comes from a variety of things, which then help to provide the pathway into the next best thing for her.
“I get my inspiration from a lot of things, but mostly from the relationships I’ve had and the things in my life that made me feel profoundly,” Hall said. “Someone once told me good writers make you think, [and] great writers make you feel. So, I’m always trying to think about what makes me feel and capture that on the page.”
Hall still can’t believe that her dream of living in Los Angeles, CA and working for “The Witcher” has come true.
“This first year on ‘The Witcher’ has been unmatchable,” Hall said. “I don’t know how I got so lucky. I pinch myself every day.”