Hello and welcome to Scriptease, the podcast where Natalie Hazen gets naked... with her writing. In this first episode, Natalie revisits “Crystal Clear,” a half hour TV pilot she wrote during a transitional time in her life. After hearing it read aloud, she sits down with comedian Kyle Clark to get his notes and criticism-- with some bumps along the way.
ABOUT THIS EPISODE
“Crystal Clear” is a spec comedy pilot I finished in 2013. When I graduated from NYU in 2010, it was the height of the recession. I stayed in the city for the summer, trying to find work but not really sure what I was doing. I finished rewriting my thesis and tried starting a sketch troupe that fell through. It was hot and sticky. I spent a lot of time wandering around.
Until one day it finally dawned on me-- New York didn't want me anymore. I was no longer pumping money into NYU, which needed to make room for more bright-eyed students with dreams. I couldn't find a job and my lease was up. So I moved back home to Canton, Georgia.
From the end of summer through Christmas, I worked at the Hallmark Gold Crown store in Town Center Mall, not far from my parents' house. I remember they were putting out Halloween decorations when I went in to re-apply. You see, this had been my old summer job through college. I erroneously assumed that graduating from a big fancy private school meant I would never have to work retail again. Needless to say, I came back with my tail between my legs and desperate for something to occupy my mind.
My rationale was that this job was temporary; I was only doing it so I could save up money to move out to Los Angeles. And I did. On the plane there, I remember white-knuckling my seat handles the entire time while listening to my first episode of WTF with Marc Maron (the Tom Lennon episode) and talking to a pilot sitting next to me about how much he hated L.A. I was terrified.
The reason I tell you all this is because "Crystal Clear" was written as my alternate reality-- if I had abandoned my decision to go to L.A. and stayed in Georgia forever.
"Crystal Clear" underwent a lot of transformations. The idea actually began in 2008 in my sophomore Screenwriting 1 class with Joe Vinciguerra. It started out as sort of an indie movie focusing on the relationship between Crystal and Dave, but over time it morphed into a TV pilot. My one regret is taking so long to finish it-- working on and off for years. I finished it as a way different writer in a way different point in my life than when I started. Looking back at earlier drafts, I miss some of that early rawness.
While there are definitely things I see now that I would change, I think "Crystal Clear" is an important product of its time. I also believe that for as flawed as this script is, it does represent my voice and is a good introduction to my work.
Note: For the reading, I did make some revisions to my final draft from 2013. I cut down the stage directions and cleaned up the dialogue. However, the story and characters are the same.