Photo by John Estanislau
Welcome back to the second entry of what I like to call my origins story! All this time you’ve watched Strawburry17 from one end of the computer screen. In this series I give you an inside look, from my own perspective, on how I went from little intern to producer, and the crazy ride in between!
After all the stress, second-guessing and technical mishaps that were involved in applying for the Strawburry17 internship, I finally got that email that let me know I was being considered for a position as a production intern. I was so freaking excited! I was going to be an intern for a YouTube channel! WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN? True, I had no idea what I was getting into. But I really liked watching the SB17 videos, and honestly I just wanted to be apart of creating those videos, even if it was in the smallest of ways, so I could feel like I helped brighten up the day of whoever was watching. Ok—enough of the mush. ON TO THE DRAMAAAA!
Now I have to admit, I sometimes miss little details. And sometimes these little details turn out to be super flippin important details, like saaaaay, the date of the trial internship… Back then I would have sworn up and down that I was told to come in Thursday during the end of March. Strawburry17 was having a shoot day at the YouTube Space and this was to be my test. Well give me an F for reading comprehension because it turns out the trial internship was actually that TUESDAY!
Picture this, a serene Tuesday morning. Open on lil Lina waking up to a bright shining day. She gets up, makes herself a nice breakfast and sits down to watch some TV… That’s when she gets a call from an unknown number. Strange.. Who could this be? She answers her phone, expecting it to be a telemarketer or something.
“Hello, is this Lina Madrid?”
“Uhh, yes it is, who’s this?”
“Hi this is Ness Cardano with Strawburry17, we were wondering if you were still coming in? You were scheduled to be on set at 8am and it’s 10am.”
I have never moved faster in my life. I could have won several gold medals with how quickly I showered and changed. Skipping breakfast (but never coffee because that’s my lifeblood) I raced frantically around my house to get ready. To this day I don’t know why they let me come in still, even though I was 2-3 hrs late, but they did and I only had one more thing in my way: the 405 freeway. I was on the opposite side of Downtown LA and had to get to Santa Monica by way of the 405… To those who don’t live in LA, basically just imagine me having to drive through literal hell, same thing.
Disheveled and out of breath, I finally burst through the doors of the YouTube Space at 11am. One thing I remember very vividly of that day was thinking, “Oh God, oh God. I’m fired. I’m dead.” the entire time. Ness greeted me at the door and was extremely friendly and nice about the fact that I had totally blown it. I was given a brief tour of the building, cameras were everywhere, people were stressed, and I was right at home!
Next stop on the tour: meeting Meghan AKA Strawburry17 AKA the big boss. They hadn’t actually started filming yet and were running late, so tensions were very high. Meghan was in the dressing room getting ready for the shoot, makeup half done when someone brought me in to meet her. She had no idea I was coming in and was totally thrown off guard by it. Thinking back on it now that was HILARIOUS! Of course, in the moment, I was terrified because I thought she was gonna tell me I was done for since I was so late. But nothing happened and the meeting was very brief and uneventful to be honest. It was production day, there were things to do!
They then brought me over to meet the other trial interns for the day: Oscar and Josh. These guys were really cool and extremely nice! However… I have to confess something.. I totally thought that Strawburry17 was testing several trial interns at once to choose just one to be an official intern. 3 go in and only 1 survives… I have no idea where I got this idea, but it definitely pushed me that day to prove myself and was a pretty good motivation. Even with competition in mind, I bonded quickly with these guys. Oscar, who is still my very close friend today (and an awesome gaming buddy), asked me to take a picture of him bowing down in front of a giant One Direction mural the Space had. After that I knew we’d be great friends. I’m really glad I didn’t end up having to fight him to the death for the internship Hunger Games style!
Once lunch was over, Oscar and Josh were sent on errands, and I was taken over to the sound stage where the filming was about to begin. That whole day was dedicated to shooting 12 episodes of the tech and gaming review show called Your Turn. It was 1pm, wrap time was 8pm and not one episode had been filmed yet. Later I found out each day cost around 5k, so time was literally money, every second wasted was money burned! Yikes… maybe this wasn’t the best day to test out new interns?
They brought me over to a computer and gave me my first assignment: teleprompter runner/handler/manager/wrangler/extraordinaire. See I didn’t even know what it’s called, that’s how little experience I had with something like this! But now was my chance to prove myself, to make up for the rocky morning I had. I was going to work so hard and so well that they’d forget about me coming in late and HAVE to hire me! At least that was my dream, things didn’t turn out as smoothly as that though… Several things happened that created the perfect storm, and triggered… “The Event.” 1. The teleprompter was being controlled by a website on a Mac, but no one had ever used it before, I was taught how to use it by people who didn’t really know how to work it themselves. 2. What I was seeing on the Mac screen was actually mirrored and UPSIDE DOWN compared to how they saw it on their teleprompter screen, I had to manually control the speed of the scrolling but read everything backwards and try to match it up to where they were in the script. 3. I had never used a Mac before this moment, I’ve been PC all my life so I couldn’t even figure out how to fix the mirrored screen situation!
So there I was, sweating bullets and trying to stand on shaky legs knowing that I could NOT screw this up, and that if I did it would be the end for me…
At roughly 4:15pm “The Event” occurred. Meghan and her two co-hosts were about 1/4 of the way through an episode when a line was messed up. They decided to take that section from the top. “Teleprompter reset to top of the section!” Oh shoot, that’s me! I quickly started scrolling up to where I believed that section was and they began again. But then they start adding in some improv and skipping lines in the script so I struggled to keep up. Trying to scroll backwards and upside down I began lagging behind on the teleprompter. With each failed attempt to catch up I could feel my chances at becoming an official Strawburry17 intern slipping away. That’s when I heard her voice:
“Whoever is working the teleprompter needs to stop and let someone else, who does know how, do it!”
The entire room turned to look at me all at once. My heart dropped down to my toes. I knew at that moment… I was fired.