Konrad Kay + Mickey Down


Basic Rights sits down with Konrad Kay and Mickey Down, two London based screenwriters to talk about their creative partnership and the launch of their upcoming show Industry on HBO and BBC. 

"The show is about young people going into the world of finance. Something that deals with the youngest people at the bottom of that industry rather than people right at the top," says Down. This is a perspective the pair can fairly claim as it was after two aborted careers in the city that Kay & Down began on their journey as screenwriters. "We were actually working with a production company with this great woman called Jane Tratner. She discovered she had two ex-bankers working for her and she thought 'OK well, can we make a show out of this? Have you ever tried to make a show out of this?' For the show itself it was about a 2 year incubation period. HBO were conscious of how green we were, but that excited them more than anything because it's like 'that's a new voice', a new perspective..."

On the ups and downs of life inside film & tv the pair agree that compared to a normal working environment a path to success or failure is 'pretty non-linear'. "There've been moments where we're really close to getting something on TV or getting something made, then overnight you get an email saying 'btw this thing has fallen through."

Each agrees that having a creative partner has in many ways been essential. "When one of us is down, the other one is up. You have two people writing together it's not like you have to have a conversation with yourself about whether a scene's working or whether the story's working. You're basically always interrogating it as it goes." Down admits to a tendency to take things quite far,"sometimes to ridiculous places" while Kay is the one to push back. "It's a process of us talking it through together. As long as it's something original then that's obviously what you're trying to do when you're making television."

"If it's going to be good it can't be a democratic process. You have to be collaborative because it's the most collaborative medium but you also need to know exactly what you want." 

On their ambitions as writers, "...you want to be saved from your indulgences, but you also want as much creative control as you possibly can. Plus being able to work again. That's all you ever want working in television and film: the last thing you did to be good enough that you can work again."

Industry is out on HBO in the USA and BBC in the UK in November.

Mickey Down @mnadown
Konrad Kay @konradmkay