|Exclusive interview with Crystal Diane Stevens – Screenwriter|
Having double-majored in both film and literature at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, Ms. Stevens began her work in the film industry working with Academy-Award-winning Director/Actress, Lee Grant. Serving as Story Analyst, Ms. Stevens immersed herself in story-telling techniques by also taking subsequent work in screenplay evaluation and development for numerous producers in New York and LA: Raw Films, Fever-Dreams and also served as backup reader for Harvey Keitel’s production company. Ms. Stevens served as a Research Associate on the Martin Scorsese documentary, “Airbus.” Her feature script, “Organized Criminal,” has been recognized twice by the prestigious Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Nicholl Fellowship, placing in the Top 15% and Top 20% of all entries. In 2019, “Organized Criminal,” was also selected as an Official Finalist at The Cannes Screenwriting Competition. Having earned 5 separate certificates from Harvard in U.S. Government and Politics, Ms. Stevens proceeded to develop, “Kill List,” into an episodic series for marketing to streaming and cable networks. In March of 2020, both “Kill List” and “Organized Criminal” were selected into The Drama Inc. Screenplay Competition. In May of 2020, she optioned her original feature screenplay, “Crucify You”/aka/”Jolene.” She also placed as Finalist with “Organized Criminal” at The Big Apple Screenplay Competition in June of 2020. In March of 2021, “Organized Criminal” was selected as the winner of the Best Script Award (feature) in the UK and was additionally designated as the Best Script of ALL submissions by the jury. “Kill List” was also a Finalist at The Prague International Film Festival (March 2021). Winner/Best Pilot at Art Film Awards (April 2021) and among the Finalists at Los Angeles International Screenplay Awards (Winter 2021). While continuing to provide ghost-writing services on screenplays, she has worked with both indie and Oscar-winning producers and directors alike. On occasion, she acts as a consulting producer. In 2019, she co-produced the short film, “Nadia Jaan,” with producer Julie Pacino. In June of 2021, “Organized Criminal” won Best Feature Screenplay at The Cannes Film Awards. In November of 2021, both “Kill List” and “Organized Criminal” were designated Official Selections at The Culver City Film Festival. December 2021, “Kill List” was also an Official Selection at The Toronto Film and Script Awards and at ISC. In May 2022, “Kill List” won for Best Pilot Script at The Future of Film Awards and her short script, “Drive” was selected as the Winner at Art Film Awards in London and at The Gothamite Film Festival in NYC. “Drive” was also declared the Winner at Hollywood Script Award, “Drive” also took the top prize as Best Drama Screenplay at The Austin After Dark Film Festival. In Nov. 2022. Ms. Stevens also served as a first-round judge at The Big Apple Screenplay Competition. Overall, she has earned 40 honors at festivals and competitions worldwide.
NY Glam: What projects are you currently working on?
I’m currently juggling both writing & producing work. I’m working on getting the short script that I was nominated for at ISC, “Drive” into production over the next few months. My other passion project is the geopolitical action/thriller series that I’ve created, “Kill List.” We’re working to attach additional talent to package the series.
NY Glam: What makes a film great for you? Are there certain qualities that make a film better for you?
What makes a great film, wow what a GREAT question! There are so many elements that matter but overall execution comes first. Concept is also incredibly important, and more intelligent content, I think, is badly needed in today’s world.
NY Glam: As a screenwriter, what is the most important aspect of building a character?
Truth. Blood on the page. A screenplay that I’m writing doesn’t have to be about me, but I’m most certainly going to put pieces of myself, my feelings, perceptions, and experiences into the characters. The truth resonates with people and elevates a screenplay.
NY Glam: Top 3 favorite projects that you have been involved in?
Too bad I only get to list 3 when they are so many! Right now, I’m so proud of what’s been unfolding around “Drive” so amazing – it’s winning literally everywhere it’s been entered back-to-back.
I would say I’m off and on obsessed with seeing more progress and talent on the “Kill List” project – very determined to stay the course despite the challenges.
More recently, I discussed a new idea for a new script that I had with another writer. That one’s called “Complicit” and while I have ghost-written for clients over the years and in that have dealt with collaborators, I’m looking forward to possibly having a co-writer on this one. His name is Derek Presley. Not sure if he’ll have the time to work on this next thriller with me, but I just think we’d do something amazing together given the chance.
NY Glam: Do you express yourself creatively in any other ways?
I sure do. I think that creativity is expressed easily in everyday life outside of writing/filmmaking. In decorating my condo, in cooking, or helping dress up a film set. I can go on…
NY Glam: What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career in filmmaking?
Know it’s not going to be easy. Know it’s going to take years, often more than a decade, to build a name and a reputation and to make the right connections in the industry. In addition, I’ve seen people succeed a very high levels only to have their challenges and struggles, surprisingly, still exist of subsequent projects. It’s a constant climb, and maybe that never ends. I love art and started doing this work to be involved with art, but the reality is – and this has been my BIGGEST adjustment – is that I’m not just an artist, I’m an artist who is doing BUSINESS. This work is a business first, art second. I don’t like business. But I have no choice. No business, no movie.
NY Glam: What can we expect from you in this actual year?
2023 is looking good so far. I’m working with 2 clients on female-oriented projects, prepping the short film “Drive” and then also producing more on “Kill List” and then writing a the aforementioned new script, “Complicit.”
NY Glam: Where can everyone keep up with you to learn more? …social media…website
Your best is to connect with me on LinkedIn.