What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Crystal Boyd, and I’m originally from Washington DC, but I’ve been in NY now for about eight years. Brooklyn based. I also would like to say thank you to ASTEP. They are the ones who told me about this program. ASTEP stands for Artists Striving to End Poverty. They are an amazing organization in the city. They do things globally and in the city to bring art to kids in underserved communities that need artistic expression. People should check them out ASTEPonline.org.
What is the project you are working on at SPACE?
The project that I’m working on here is actually a screenplay. It is a short, partially animated film called Cape Town that follows a day in the life of an over-packed imagination of a little girl who’s obsessed with super heroes. She’s a sketch artist and in particular it follows her on the final day of competition in a NYC Super hero sketch competition.
How did this project come about?
The project came about from a series of influences. I did a really great piece with the producer, with this production company called Front Street Productions. He and I had been talking back then about how we wanted a modern day super hero film set in New York City that kind of honors New York City. At the same time, I was seeing all of these amazing films. Sort of at the fault of my boyfriend who is a film major. I watch movies way more than I ever have before. I watched Beasts of the Southern Wild, which blew my mind. It’s a fantastical story that’s really inspiring to me. And also I’ve been watching more anime and manga recently. I saw this manga called Tekkinkonkreet which follows two little boys in a fake slum city in Japan. These brothers that are innocent but actually have to deal with a lot of real life challenges and gang life and juggling their own potential and imaginations with the realities of life. But, more importantly, stylistically it was interesting because it was through this manga that was awesome. It was a combination of CGI and hand-drawn animation that made me realize as an art form that is something I’d like to explore. At the same time that I saw that I randomly met an awesome animator. She was looking for work to do and I mentioned it to her and she wanted to do it. The idea definitely came before the money, as it usually does. I started working on the script, we cast the main character two or three months ago so she could start animating. Now we have a producer and it’s actually funded and we start shooting in October.
Where was it in the process before you came to SPACE and where is it now?
Before I came to SPACE I had done a few drafts, but I hadn’t been able to focus on the structure. The space here gave me the time to really focus on the structure that I wanted it to be. It gave me time to get inside the mind of the protagonist, Sonia. And in particular using voice over and animated tangents. I’ve also had the time to flesh out animated sequences with my animator. So, I’ve actually gotten a lot more great drafts of animated sketches so I’ll have an idea creatively of where we’ll be going next. Besides that, I’ll be able to do a reading today and get out of my head with it and get some feedback from people so hopefully I can do another draft and get that to my cast in September. That’s the goal.
You are head of a production company. Could you tell me more about that?
Yes. I have a production company with a few NYU alums. We created it about a year after we left school. It’s called 1990 Lex Productions. It focuses on creating a new narrative that explores modern relationships and celebrates women. We have done a few projects. Our first creative baby is Downtown Girls which is an online media series that is very high comedy/Bridesmaids-y/vulgar but fun. We won at LA Webfest for best comedy. We are shooting that in September on top of me shooting this project in October. They are a huge support. We are girls looking to do some awesome things in the world. They aren’t funding this project but they are an associate producer. I got an outside producer for this project. But I’ve been sending them scripts all week for their feedback.
What got you into screenwriting?
It’s funny how it works. Like most people in the creative industry, there is a way you get into it and you either start to wear many hats or you realize one thing is really what you love to do. For me, I went to NYU for musical theatre. So, I went completely as an actor but as a result of leaving school and forming the company—the reason we formed the company was not only because we wanted to stay as creative as possible and welcome possibilities we could create for ourselves we realized it was a necessity in terms of learning every aspect of the business. For our first project, we brought a screenwriter on board and we gave the story to her and she fleshed it out, but I learned so many skillsets just by creating through my company that I realized it was time to take a leap and actually do something that wasn’t so familiar to me. So I’m actually not originally a screenwriter at all. I’ve learned, and taken classes. This is an exciting adventure. I’ve done acting, directing and producing but I have not really done screenwriting before. So this space has given me the opportunity to do it.
How have you been spending your time at SPACE?
I’ve been spending my time on the lake! It’s been AMAZING! I probably scared some neighbors because I was singing out on the lake the other day. Today, I fed the turkeys. I was a little scared, they look sort of prehistoric but they were great. I’ve been eating a lot of amazing food thanks to our staff. Oh yeah, and writing. That, too.
What’s coming up next for you?
After shooting we’ll be working on distribution to festivals. Luckily, I have someone paying for me this time around so it’ll be a little easier. The new year will see me distributing not only the series I’m shooting in September but also this film at festivals. We’ll see where it goes. And then… who knows?
How do you go about getting funding to get to do the creative stuff?
It’s about nurturing relationships you already have and meeting new people, but combining that with a good product. If you have a good product that’s out there and you have one or two people to put it on a platform other people will be drawn to you. As a result, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the funding for this short if I wasn’t able to show my portfolio and say I have this other short that was successful. As a result of that the producer trusts me. It’s a frustrating process for sure, but it’s a fun hustle. Our series Downtown Girls‘ second season is about these girls following an entrepreneurial dream. To fund their dream they start a nightclub in their apartment. I would just say keep on pushing in terms of the producers and funds. And of course Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.
If you were to be reincarnated as a farm animal what animal would you be and why?
Oh, this is so easy! I would be a cow. Most definitely. I have been obsessed with cows since I was 11 years-old. That was my Xanga at the time. Do you remember Xanga? It was crazycows916. It’s been a passion of mine for a long time. They are such lazy animals, which I appreciate. I think they enjoy the finer things in life. They have four stomachs so they can eat all that grass, and I love to eat so it works out. It would be a life of leisure and luxury. As long as I’m not a milking cow… I would probably be a brown and white spotted cow.
I love that specificity. Do you have any advice in terms of creativity and creation?
I would say after you do it the first time it gets much easier. Really engage in the world, know your own value in that. So just do it! Nike had it right.
Interviewed by Marisa Brau