Originally reported in Deadline, NYFA Producing alum Krystina Christiansen was named one of four finalists competing for a chance to sign a deal with Sony Pictures Television (SPT) and win additional prizes in Gemstone Studios’ inaugural Rising Storytellers Search.
The Houston, TX native originally received her BA in Public Relations at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX before coming to New York Film Academy. “I have been running around with a camera in hand since I was a kid,” shared Christiansen. “I didn’t know what I was doing was called filmmaking and I didn’t grow up obsessing over the art of filmmaking. I just really love storytelling.”
“When I got to college, I didn’t see a ‘reasonable’ path to filmmaking outside of being an entertainment lawyer so I went to law school in San Diego with that intent,” she revealed. Not long after, Christiansen recalled sitting in a class one day watching a documentary and it was there she realized she would rather be the person who made that documentary than the student watching it, leading her to study at New York Film Academy.
“What I got from my time at NYFA was what education has always given me – the confidence I feel I need to move towards my goals. Specifically to NYFA, I love how diverse the community is; I was one of 3 Americans in my class.”
After pursuing her MFA in Producing at NYFA, Christiansen worked on an array of productions, directing and producing music videos and a web series, followed by a handful of short films. “I realized I was burning myself out working on shoe-string budget passion projects so I started working as a coordinator.” She then landed her first feature with Black-owned production company Hidden Empire Film Group as a Travel Coordinator for the film Traffik starring Omar Epps and Paula Patton.
“The cinematographer on Traffik, Dante Spinotti, taught me so much with his actions. He really raised the bar of expectations on the type of people I want to work with. Talent is great, but kindness is key,” shared Christiansen.
Since then, the NYFA alum has been working in the digital and commercial space as a coordinator and has worked her way up to production managing and producing with companies like Participant’s digital arm SoulPancake, and in 2020 she produced, wrote, and directed for TikTok, The Redford Center, USC Keck Medicine, and others in the commercial and doc space.
Now Christiansen is being recognized for her work and ideas for her project The Narrative by Sony’s Gemstone Studios by being named one of the four finalists in the inaugural Rising Storytellers Search. Her entry pitch for her project, The Narrative, a hybrid docudrama that takes an anthropological view of decades of civil unrest in Houston.
“When I was 13, I overheard a newscaster talking about the 30 year anniversary of a trial in Houston called ‘The Houston 12.’ While watching it I recognized one of the men was my dad,” she revealed. “He was working overseas at the time and there’s nothing about this trial online so I kept hitting walls anytime I’d inquire about it. My dad is incredibly humble about this, but I knew there was a story here and as mentioned, I love a good story.”
Christiansen did everything she could to dig deeper into her research to uncover the truth behind The Houston 12 and spent 2019 flying back and forth to Houston to sit in Rice University’s basement reading two decades of microfilm to do research for the story. Throughout that process, she noticed alarming patterns within media stories that revealed covered up corruption and, eventually, the articles detailing the Houston 12 trial.
The four finalists for Gemstone Studios’ inaugural Rising Storytellers Search, including Christiansen, will receive tools from Sony Alpha and team up with mentors from both SPT and Ideas United to refine their final pitch reels before presenting them for judging in November. In addition to a deal with Gemstone, the creator of the winning proposal will take home equipment from Sony and get access to the company’s Digital Media Production Center (DMPC) technical-virtual training. All finalists will also be given a 24-month subscription to Celtx Video Production Studio Software and Josefinas products.
New York Film Academy is thrilled to share the exciting news about Krystina Christiansen being named a finalist and wishes the NYFA alum the best of luck and all the support for her biggest and most personal project yet, The Narrative.