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"The whole thing was fantastic.
"I got a lot of work done and met a lot of superbly interesting people," Mr Hay said.
He returned to Dunedin this week after spending six "extremely stimulating" weeks in China on the first trip undertaken through the Dunedin Shanghai Screen Writers Exchange programme.
This Dunedin City Council-backed exchange allows experienced screenwriters to develop work and build new professional relationships.
DCC-based Film Dunedin co-ordinator Antony Deaker said Mr Hay was hosted by the Shanghai Art Film Federation to meet film makers, visit studios and undertake research.
Mr Hay was born in Scotland and lived in Auckland before shifting to Dunedin in 2015.
That shift ended lengthy rush-hour commuting and enabled him to "reclaim a huge amount of my life back"- giving him the extra time he needed to start working on short films.
When he went to Shanghai last November, he had directed an 11-minute short film, Cold Fish, which was written by Emma Schranz and shot at Smaills Beach, Dunedin.
This won the Best Short Film prize at the Ravenna Nightmare Film Festival in Italy last year, and received a special mention from the jury at the Visionaria film festival at Sienna.
Visionaria judges said the film had tackled "in a direct and unconventional way the connection between life and death, teen years and adult life".
Mr Hay wrote the first draft of a film script for the "very fast-moving" full-length film version of Cold Fish in "just three weeks".
He earlier spent many years making documentary television for broadcasters across the world and last year received a New Zealand Writers Guild seed grant.