Crystal Correa is a Los Angeles based film-maker and hair-dresser who recently dropped her first Web Series from her new production company C+Media Productions. ‘Crystal’ is a “part-love letter, part-heinous reminder” of her early twenties. Starring Crystal as an exaggerated version of herself, the series navigates the small moments, laughs and irritations of Crystal and her roommate Nikki.
With a fiery passion and an undoubtedly bubbly and joyful personality, “Crystal” brims with energy, as does its creator. With some big plans in the works and a lot to reflect on, SQ caught up with Crystal to find out all about her production company, how to survive your 20’s and how her 18 month old son is influencing her future projects.
SQ: Hi Crystal! So ‘Crystal the Webseries’ was the debut project of your new production company C+ Media Productions, can you tell us a little bit about why and how you started the company…
CC: Yes! I had another production company “Grabbag Goodies Productions” but there was some issue with filing, when it came to trademarking. I even had a mascot that was a “Grabbag” it was a tribute to my random self and how I never want to be trapped in a “box”. But once I had to abandon the name, yes that’s the technical term, which isn’t dramatic at all. I decided to go in a different direction with the name. I feel I matured and wanted to rebrand myself how I was feeling after the “fail”.
I actually have a degree in computer science and I wanted to have fun with the name. And my boyfriend’s tax guy, yeah, he helped me filed my paper and come up with the name. “C+ Media Productions”, which is great ‘cause it’s me and different artists and genres. It still feels like I am not in a box, even though my logo has a rectangle in it. Also I enjoy math so having the plus sign really relaxes me. Numbers don’t lie. My long-term goal is to be an executive producer and help create stories that can make a difference. As a military kid, who moved quite a bit, it was always comforting to me to watch movies and shows that I knew others were. It was a great ice-breaker and a fast way for me to understand people at my new locations.
Once everything was properly filed, lessons, life is about the lessons, I had already been working on “Crystal the Webseries” and other projects so I just transferred them over to C+Media Productions.
The main reason I went with “Crystal” was because it was a very relatable topic and easiest to produce on a budget. And the character is basically a more ridiculous version of myself, I could use what I already had around me. Got to make it work, to me it was important to get something done and go from there.
SQ: In ‘Crystal’ you focus on the day to day entertainment and irritations of 20-something Crystal and her roommate Nikki. Why do you think this was an important and pivotal time in a woman’s life to focus on?
CC: It’s the first time you are away from your parents. That comfort, I was a very sheltered kid and a late bloomer as an adult. It wasn’t horrible, I have wonderful parents who care about me. They were more focused on me learning how to fix things and be good with numbers but the issue was I never got to see the “real world”. The bad, the ugly truth, that not everyone has the same upbringing. It was a weird world for me when I started to notice that a lot of people aren’t very nice and don’t mean what they say. So I wanted to talk about that topic but do it in a way where it wasn’t “sad or depressing”, because I am such an optimistic person. I want the best for everyone, which sometimes leads to bad things. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”, it was a hard lesson I had to learn but I did and I was able to write about it. And film it!
With that said, it wasn’t like I didn’t deal with bullies and horrible life situations, because I did. I think with me, I thought that when you got to your 20’s things were going to settle down and it got worse and worse and finally better. With season one I wanted to gently get us going, introduce Crystal, and ease her into the world before really adding the pressures and she will handle them with humor or at least try to.
SQ: You’ve said in previous interviews that you draw a lot from your own experiences, was it important for you to play yourself or simply just convenient?
CC: It was very important to me, I mean it helped get the story the way I wanted because I was also directing, and because I was in the scenes it helped everyone see what I was trying to say and the communication on set was very clear. We always got done ahead of schedule. And I have been doing theater from a very young age so it was great to be able to act in my first big project and showcase some many different skills I can do. I was really handling this as a “resume” in a form of a “show”. It was a very pricey resume. And I got to introduce myself to the world which is great because I had fun in the process of it.
Also I feel if others see that you have been through, they can respect you more and focus on working and creating vs second guessing me on set.
I am very passionate about film and all the roles and different departments, to me it was about really understanding the languages.
SQ: Was there any other shows or films you were inspired by when making Crystal?
CC: Well let’s bring it back old school for a moment. I love me some Madtv, like I said before I was sheltered so I didn’t respect the jokes as much as I do now. I also love me some “New Girl” and “Silicone Valley” so mix all that up and bake a cake, the Cake is “Crystal”.
I already wrote more storylines that showcase the “Silicone Valley” aspect, as Crystal is a graphic designer and she will be dealing with some tech vs artist “superstars” in the future.
Also using my stories… and I got stories. Turns out being sheltered and clueless does come in helpful as a writer, even though I wasn’t thinking that was the direction my life was going to turn but happy it did. Everyone was writing their own material, so I started and noticed, yeah maybe I have something I can work with and now it’s going.
The look I wanted for “Crystal” was juicy, the colors are very rich. I made sure she has primary colors around her because from those colors, you can make anything. And she’s an artist so she makes it work and wants to look at “happy” things, even when things aren’t going her way.
SQ: When watching the show I noticed some artwork in Crystal’s apartment that I thought had ‘Crystal’ signed at the bottom… if these were made by you, is art another one of your creative outlets?
CC: Yes, I love to paint. It’s relaxing and surreal, the world is what you make of it. It’s the kind of peace you can’t explain, you just got to pick up a brush and go there. Art was everything and still everything to me but my parents were realistic enough to tell me that I needed to focus on a trade vs just art. I wanted to focus on art restoration because I am good at copying art or just figuring out what to do next. And I love art so the care I would give someone else’s painting would be everything. But my parents thought maybe I should focus on a job that I could do anywhere and it’s not a field that know much about which is how they feel about film, I didn’t even go there until later on. I needed to build myself up to get the confidence to see you can really do whatever you want, you just have to take the time to really figure it out and breathe.
But I do paint every week, in the form of hair coloring. I have been a hairstylist for over 14 years and I get to make people feel amazing about themselves. Which is a great balance from film which is very rewarding but it doesn’t come so quickly. Whereas with hair I get the results throughout the days.
SQ: What has the reception for Crystal been like? She’s such a relatable and charming character! I know you’ve taken the series to Hollyshorts and DTLA Film Festival. How was it received there and what was that experience like?
CC: Awe thank you, she’s your friend. She’s your awkward pale Puerto rican friend, who is trying to get it together. In life it’s about the try and she’s right there with everyone else. Not trying to be better or hurtful, just wants to laugh at the “wtf” moments life has to offer us, together.
A great example of the reception is at “HollyShorts” I had a white man in his late 50’s and young Asian woman in her 20’s both come up to be at different times and said the same thing. They got the joke and were right there with me which made me feel like I did my job. I got different people to be able to understand each other and that’s awesome. Also my very diverse cast helped tell the story in a way where it felt really real.
“Crystal” is a hang-out show, or I want it to be where you know you are going to be like “yep” and laugh. I want everyone to laugh and what’s great is when people laugh during parts that were written to be funny. So I was happy with my writing too. To me it means so much for people to FINALLY get me and let’s keep playing! I have a huge sense of humor and not afraid to use my fails as a joke. A joke that can help heal others who are going through a rough time.
I am from the south so I wanted my show to be a hug, like southern food. Most people ask me when am I going to release more and that is great. I want to be here for the long run but I am just making sure I set this foundation right and go towards the next step the right way. I have learned from my mistakes, which is why I decided to go the film festival route vs just going straight to the public. I wanted to support other filmmakers and have a strong group of friends in the film world, which I do have now.
SQ: You told me that you’ve got an 18 month old son, firstly congratulations! I’m interested to know if motherhood has changed or influenced your approach to your creative projects and the stories you want to tell in the future.
CC: Thank you so much, he is such a ham. Motherhood knocks you out, I can’t say I am behind or “didn’t know”, and oh you know. It’s like you are awarded with this cute twin baby and the gift of cutting the bs out of your life. You get focused lenses on and just go, pure survival mode.
I will say my writing has always been on the “sweet side”, I love salty food but I don’t want to be salty. Even my roommate Nikki, she has funny moments, she’s just young. And people don’t always get along, it’s ok. I wanted to see more of that real life experience, that’s “its ok” not to be everyone’s friend and focus more about enjoying your life. However and whoever is around you, be you and have fun. Cause you are young once and thank goodness for that! Ha, I will say I am having a kick playing my younger self again but so happy I am nowhere in that world or head-space anymore. It’s healing and I can have more fun with the past.
As for my future projects, I am kinda looking at the “bigger picture” and been doing changes on screenplays that fit more for the times or where we are heading as a society. Now that I have some female filmmaker and male filmmaker allies it helps with brainstorming and they know I am here to help too! I am all about the 50/50, having a little boy really changed me to not be so harsh. I want him to respect women but not to be afraid of them either, so finding that good balance is my goal forever. Also I am a Libra so that’s always been my goal, balance.
I do want to go into the animation world as soon as I have more of my live-action projects rolling out. I love cartoons that would be a dream to have a couple of my own in the future!
But what has stayed and will stay and making sure I have a message in everything I do and put out there, it’s a responsibility as a filmmaker I don’t take lightly , you are an influencer like it or not. It’s important to me. With “Crystal” the main lesson is giving yourself time to process and start setting those boundaries up. It’s going to take a minute for her to get there but she will and I hope to share that journey with everyone.
SQ: And finally, your next project after ‘Crystal’ is listed as ‘Neighborhood Nights’, set in the salon Neighborhood Salon in Echo Park where you work your day job! Could you tell us a bit about the project and when we will be able to see it?
CC: OOOh this is a fun quick mini-mini series. I wanted to do some commercial storylines at the salon I work at. One of my favorite shows is “Superstore”, the best part of the show isn’t the main storyline to me it’s those small scenes used in editing to link the show together. Where you see the customers being ridiculous, I love it! And I wanted to do something like that but with a very short storyline. I love to mood at the salon “after hours”, it’s a very cool salon with beautiful rich colors… I mean I love my primary colors. And my salon manager Elicia McCoy, is a multi-talented artist like myself so it’s been great to collaborate with her!
And the owner of Neighborhood Salon, Ava Shiro is also an amazing artist so she’s very supportive of us. We have a really good group of ladies and this was a fun way to market the salon in a different funny, cute way.
We shot the first episode so we know what it’s going to look like but we are going to film the rest later this month so we can release them in the summer time, once a week. During the “slow season” and it will be on C + Media Productions social media platforms and at least getting us on the map! Neighborhood Salon is such a hidden gem but it would be great for us to be able to reach out and get more clients that fit into our salon life and style.
As far as “Crystal”, I wrote the pilot and still sharing season one and getting feedback from people from all over- even international!
As of recently “Crystal” won an “lal’s femfest” Webseries of the month and was nominated for a WhoHAHA “favorite webseries”.
And waiting to hear back from more film festivals!
You can watch the full first season of Crystal The Web Series over at C+ Media Productions.
by Chloe Leeson
Chloe Leeson is the founder of Screen Queens. She hails from the north of England (the proper north that people think is actually Scotland but isn’t). Her lifesource is Harmony Korine’s 90s Letterman interviews and Ezra Miller’s jawline. She is a costume designer for hire who spends way too much time watching bad horror movies. Her favourite films are Into The Wild, Lords of Dogtown, Stand by Me and Pan’s Labyrinth. She rants about cinema screenings @kawaiigoff and logs them on letterboxd here