By Tammy Reese
NYWIFT Member Hayley Davis is a DGA Training Program Graduate and filmmaker from Atlanta, GA now living in Brooklyn, NY. She’s worked on shorts, television, and feature films with the goal in mind to create an efficient and positive environment on set and is looking to continue that philosophy as an A.D. in New York City.
Hayley recently worked on the highly anticipated series, The Walking Dead: Dead City as Trainee Assistant. The Walking Dead: Dead City is a new series set in The Walking Dead Universe, starring Lauren Cohan and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, The Walking Dead: Dead City follows the popular Maggie and Negan characters traveling into a post-apocalyptic Manhattan long ago cut off from the mainland. The crumbling city is filled with the dead and denizens who have made New York City their own world full of anarchy, danger, beauty, and terror.
The Walking Dead: Dead City is set to screen at the Tribeca Festival on June 13th, 2023 (OKX Theater at BMCC TPAC) at 8:00 PM and on AMC Networks on June 18th. Davis is one of 15 NYWIFT members with projects premiering at Tribeca 2023.
How was your experience working on The Walking Dead: Dead City?
I learned a lot of invaluable lessons on this job that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my career. The ability to step into this franchise as a longtime fan… I feel incredibly lucky.
I grew up in Atlanta and actually left for film school the same year that the first season of The Walking Dead aired. Horror is very big in my family, and we’ve definitely been there on the couch all those Sunday nights.
Years later, I’ve gotten a chance to see how a show like this can pull through an overnight, and how long it takes to completely transform a person, and how much planning goes into our stunt work. It was great.
How did your role as Trainee Assistant come about?
I was working in Atlanta as a Set PA, and found out about the DGA Training Program in NYC. I spent a year working on sets and learning from my ADs to serve my goal of getting into this program. I moved to NYC and worked for two years moving from different shows to get as much experience in as many different sets as possible. This program has given me the opportunity to become a great AD and then some!
Who were some of your favorite people to work with on set and why?
My department was pretty fantastic. Our show was very location-based, had huge stunt pieces, and incredible makeup effects that meant we had to work to keep everyone safe, and keep our schedule tight.
I will also never forget the experience of getting to work with Lauren Cohan, Jeffrey Morgan & Eli Jorne. They were some of the kindest, most hands-on people I’ve met in this business and their passion for this show really carried us on longer days.
It’s hard to pinpoint any single person. Our crew, every department was made up of incredibly hardworking individuals who were very much the human part of this machine.
Why did you become a NYWIFT member and what do you enjoy most about the organization?
One of the things that drew me to the AD Dept originally was how little diversity there was, in a position that encounters everyone on set. I came into this business with no connections but a philosophy of ‘share your knowledge, pass it forward, and use that to help lift those around you.’
NYWIFT, I have found, is a wonderful way to connect with others in the business who feel the same. I find having many different perspectives from people with various backgrounds can lead to some incredible results.
What else are you currently working on?
I just wrapped Life and Beth Season 2, and as of January I am officially available for hire as an AD in NYC!
What is a piece of advice you would have for an aspiring Trainee Assistant?
Always lead with kindness, and be patient with people… and printers.
Connect with Hayley Davis on Instagram at @hayleymarieisin.
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