A former head of Anglia Television's prestigious wildlife documentary series Survival, Mike Hay's entrance into filmmaking began with a nine year apprenticeship with the Central African Film Unit as a learner technician. Three months as assistant film editor with Survival left Mike longing to be back behind the camera, and took him to the BBC in Ealing where he worked for a short time as a relief assistant cameraman. Returning to Africa, Mike then worked for the Rhone Selection Trust Film Unit before finally settling at Survival in London in 1968, where he was appointed technical manager.
In order to expand international sales, Aubrey Buxton, a founder member of Anglia Television, decided that Survival needed a general manager and Mike was duly appointed, remaining in the post for 26 years. The Survival management, the infamously known 'threesome' of Aubrey Buxton, Colin Willock and Mike Hay, expanded the unit both in terms of national and international presence, creating the infamous 'womb to tomb' genre of films, documenting life histories of species with limited on-screen human presence. Along with Colin, Mike provided the foundations for Survival's famous director-camera wildlife teams such as Des and Jen Bartlett and Alan and Joan Root, relating to them on a business, practical and logistical level and was responsible for allocating budgets to future trips, as well as scanning the rushes that arrived in the Survival cutting rooms.
Mike was also one of the founding members of the Wildscreen Film Festival committee.