Hi, I’m Crystal Place. Thank you for taking the time to learn about my film. I have been researching for this documentary for 8+ years, and making progress on this beautiful film, in my free time, slowly and steadily. Sharing the importance of play and helping to foster a less play-deficient society, has become one of my life’s passions. My work, however time-consuming, has become my play, and I am immensely grateful to have found it. And I really can’t wait to bring this beautiful film to life.
A bit about my experience: I started my production career in the world of advertising, working on national accounts for the ad giants Arnold Worldwide and Digitas in Boston, Massachusetts, before moving to the production side of things. After my years in Boston, I took a position as Producer (and soon Producer/Director) at a video production company smack dab in the middle of New York and Boston (though shooting nationwide), for 3 happy years, before taking the plunge into the full-time freelance production world. I missed having co-workers and worked for another production company after that, Sync Productions, for a few more years. Since the start of my career, I have worked on national award winning TV spots, feature-length and short documentaries, national corporate and non-profit video, reality TV and scripted travel shows, shorts and feature films. I have played the role of Producer, Director (doc/vérité style), Interviewer, 1st A.D., Location Manager, Grip, VO, TelePrompter and Editor, and have experience in location scouting, casting, managing a small production company, and even driving a big ol’ grip truck. Some of the channels I’ve worked for include BBC Worldwide, The Sci-Fi Channel, The Canadian Food Network, BNN (out of Holland) and The History Channel. More about my experience and a sample credits list may be found on my website: http://crystalaplace.com. In short, my background has been in nearly every shape, size and type of production, and I am now using all of the skills I’ve acquired over the years for my own project, and to bring something positive and important to my worldwide community.
Making this film has been a slow, challenging and nourishing, phenomenal journey for me. Let me take a moment to share what lead me to begin making this film and why the telling of this story is so important to me.
Why I first decided to make this documentary a decade ago: It really all started for me on my first solo-backpacking trip at the young age of 18. I learned then that I had an absolutely insatiable passion for exploration, something that has only grown stronger in me as the years have passed. Besides adventure and exploration, I’ve also always been fascinated by anthropology, neuroscience and the study of humanity’s experience here. And love the unmatched joy I feel when I have the opportunity to make a difference in the world, to one person, or to many.
During my first few expeditions out into the world abroad, one thing that struck my culture-shocked 18 year old self, was the very large difference between the amount of time people had to enjoy life in places like France, Holland, Australia and most other developed nations, and how little we had back home in America. I was shocked at that age to learn that 6 or more weeks off from work per year was not the least bit excessive to the people I met outside of the U.S. That’s 6 weeks per year to spend time with their family, visit loved ones far away, learn a new skill, explore a new place, build something, create, laugh, eat, love, live. And play. I started to look into it, to research it, to do the staggering math of the situation in relation to the average lifespan of a person. I was blown away by the numbers: 3-5 more years of life to spend as one wishes? I just couldn’t believe it. I was a college student at the time though and working full-time to put myself through school, so I put it down and got back to work. I was too busy to think of it.
I got sick.
Really sick. A doctor told me I should get my things “in order” kind of sick. I was this way, unable to do almost anything and in terrible pain for about 2.5 years. I don’t intend to bore you with this no-fun part of the story, so to sum up a large, harrowing tale into a shorter one of a few sentences and a pretty awesome ending: I figured if I was going to die, I was going to stop all the things I felt were not helping me and start figuring my own way out. I started learning everything I could about my body, food and nutrition, Chinese medicine, body-work, meditation and so on. I learned how my body ticked and what it needed, and after the most difficult and painful experience of my life, after nearly 3 years of spending most of my days in bed, I started to slowly get my life back again – to get a second chance. And one other important thing, the most important thing of all, if you ask me… I started to PLAY.
As I started to get better, I realized I literally, as cliché as it may sound, was given another real shot at life. I remember very clearly the first time I had a real belly laugh out loud in the car by myself. I even know the road I was on and the radio station I was listening to. I remember also saying out loud to myself at that moment, “Damn, that felt good.” At this point, growing healthier by the day, I started to do all the things I always used to say “One day I will…” One day I’ll learn to swing dance. One day I’ll learn to play an instrument. Learn a full tai chi form, take a road trip, fly an airplane. Make that documentary I’ve been collecting research to make for so many years.
I began to do ALL of these things, and drastic changes in my life began to bloom on all sides. Brain synapses were re-wired. Body and mind were communicating in a joy-filled little dance number I could almost sit back and watch with amusement. It was then I realized that during my years of being ill, I had literally forgotten how to play, and now I was the healthiest I’d ever been, alive and LIVING. I got rid of my television. I learned those fancy lindy-hop jumps you see those crazy cats doing in archival footage of the 1920’s. I learned to play guitar. And what I realized during this time, besides that I had created an even better version of my life than I ever could have imagined, was that all this PLAY was healing. It was, somehow, though I couldn’t quite understand the science of the matter at the time, was helping to make me better in a big way, and was making me healthier than I even knew I could be. And one day I realized that the very worst and most trying experience of my life, was also the very best thing that ever could have happened to me. Go figure. Life’s funny that way sometimes.
Diving Into Play: Then I really started to look into the magic that is PLAY. I started to ask real questions. My curiosity grew with each question explored and I started to research scientific perspectives on the matter, native village cultures around the world and their views of play, relationship experts, neuroscientists, and the science behind what really happens in the brain when we’re in a “state of play”. I was fascinated to learn that a brain that knows how to play, knows how to innovate, that play fosters creativity, problem-solving, interpersonal relationships and contentment, and the very surprising and very real discovery that PLAY, deeply biologically programmed, is just as much a drive for survival as sleep, food or sexual reproduction. It is the marrow and the essence of life. It’s what drives us. What inspires us. What heals, motivates and fills our fondest memories of the past, and deepest hopes and dreams for the future.
At this point, I thought back to my young 18 year old backpacking self, my 22 year old sick self and then to my very healthy, joy-filled current self, more than ten years later, and knew – if I’m going to create one thing in my lifetime that’s beautiful, that makes a difference to this planet, it is this film. I knew I just had to share these compelling discoveries with the other humans inhabiting this little blue planet at the same time as me. Then I really got to work.
In my proposal, one will find thorough planning, years of research and commitment to this project, a fascinating documentary and hopefully a bit of inspiration to get involved and be a part of bringing this great film to life – slowly but surely.
Thank you for your time and interest.