I had the opportunity to both visit the set of web-based series “Hitstreak” and interview some of its stars on Friday, February 7. “Hitstreak” is a web series targeted for tweens and teens that follows four YouTube sensations on their mission to save their beloved studio, Hitstreak.
When I arrived to the Miami Beach studio, I was led past a few of the on-set workers having lunch, past a flurry of activity and into Nicole Gotlin’s office. It was there that I learned something unusual (but great): those who are in charge of “Hitstreak” value school and related extracurricular activities above all else. I found this out as I was told that one of the kids, Brian, was unavailable for interview due to school obligations. Everyone that works on the set is very supportive of one another, which gives the set a strong sense of community.
From Nicole’s office, I was led into Studio G. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of watching “Hitstreak”, Studio G is a small room decorated in vibrant colors, but what really stands out are the two hot pink guitars sitting in each corner of the room. As a fully mobile and social media integrated show, the cast films 15-40 second “flash” videos that they post across various social networks to interact with fans. I got to witness the filming of one of these flash videos with Noah, who was being filmed playing one of Hitstreak’s older songs on guitar for one of their day players who’d designed a shirt for Noah. After many takes and jokes (“maybe you should play the hot pink guitar!” “that would get some attention!” “Uhhh”), the pursuit of perfection was evident even while shooting such a short video.
The cast and crew also care deeply about Hitstreak’s fans. Noah’s biggest fan, a 13-year-old girl from Hong Kong named Cindy, let him know she was in town. Not only was a set visit arranged, but Cindy was given the opportunity to meet Noah, play a few songs with him and present gifts she’d brought for him.
One gets an idea of how much passion, joy and professionalism the young actors put into their performances just by listening to them. I sat down with Mariangeli, Crystal, and Noah to get an idea of how they got involved in “Hitstreak”.
According to Noah, he and Crystal were both scouted to audition at their school, Foster’s Academy, located in Miami (which has a great volleyball team, according to Noah). Mariangeli, although she was on the younger side of the age spectrum, was able to get a part on “Hitstreak” through her mother, Isabel, who works on “Hitstreak” and manages the kids.
So you’re more of a performer than an actress?
C: Oh I love both equally. Like, I could not live without one or the other. Like, I love acting and I love singing and I love performing. ‘Cause performing also is like all so different. It’s like bam! You have to breathe fire.
What’s been your favorite cover to do so far?
N: Oh man. My favorite cover?
Yeah. Let’s start with you.
N: My favorite cover has, hands down, been “Wake Me Up”. But if you’re asking me about my favorite music video to shoot – because “Wake Me Up” was great, we were on the beach and stuff - but if you’re asking about my favorite music video, it’s the most current one, which is my original song for the music video. But I can’t tell you anything about it. All I can say is Miami to L.A.
M: I think that my favorite video to shoot would have been “Roar” because I had all of my friends there. And I was doing something I love, I love to dance and I love to do karate. And I like to beat up all the boys (laughs). Girl power.
C: And mine, I’ve had very- I feel like all my covers are very different. Like they’re very unique to each other. Like I have “I Knew You Were Trouble” by Taylor Swift, which is probably my favorite one to sing. One of my favorite songs, like, ever. Like, I love that song and I love Taylor and I loved that video and it was my first one. It started everything. Then I also like “Try” ‘cause it’s like rock kind of and we mixed it with Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven”. I liked the last one, “Come and Get It”, that was fun. And I incorporated my volleyball playing and all my volleyball team and they absolutely loved it. So, I really love all the covers and I even love – we did – and everyone was in it – “A Night to Remember”. We went way back into time and did that one. It was so much fun, that was party of a lifetime, really.
N: I’ll tell you what; one of my favorite shoots was “Let It Snow” (several “oh my god”s and “that was awesome” in agreement). We had like, a snow machine at the very end. It was so cool.
C: Yes, that one was so much fun.
Going back to that, you said that Taylor Swift song’s your favorite. Are you aware of the goat version of that song?
N: (laughs) Oh my gosh!
C: I actually learned how to do the goat.
C: Yes I did.
Do it, do it.
C: [does very convincing version of the goat scream]. Trouble, trouble, trouble.
N: (laughs) Dot dot dot.
C: [launches into another round of the goat scream]. [laughter]. The moment it came out, I feel like I was the first person to watch it honestly. I probably wasn’t, but I knew about it way before it became viral. So yeah. I love it. I love that.
So funny. ‘Cause the funny part about it too is the reason they used the goat is because the goat can mimic a human voice apparently.
C: Yeah, I’m mimicking a goat mimicking a human. So really, I’m just making fun of something that’s making fun of me. So that’s fine. That’s good.
You know what’s really funny is I was at a concert once and they played the goat version and everyone just did the goat sound. It was fantastic.
N: No way! That’s very cool.
C: Oh man.
N: I’m sure it wasn’t at a Taylor Swift concert.
No. [laughs] It was a rock concert. In Tampa.
What’s your favorite part of working on “Hitstreak”?
N: My favorite part? Definitely shooting videos. I love recording and that half of it, but I’ll tell you what. That part is a lot of intense work. You have to keep up your energy, keep your voice 100% for hours at a time and you’re in a studio where you cannot afford to make any mistakes because it’s such a prestigious studio and you want the best product. But once you get to shoot the video, we go to all these crazy places like the beach or we’ll do a music video at our school. And just the opportunity to do that kind of stuff and to film is a dream of mine. And they let me be a part of the creative process sometimes. And I love that part too, so.
M: I think that I have two. So I like to take care of Cat, he’s the “Hitstreak” fish. And we just found out recently that there’s been more than one, so we thought it was a huge legend, but then we found out there was like 16 because everybody killed him [Noah laughs].
N: [teasingly] You can add her to that list.
So your mission now is to make sure one survives?
M: I take care of Carly, the “Hitstreak” bear. Nobody really knows about her yet, because we basically all got her recently. And I think I’ve probably spent the most time with it because I always ask him to play Hide and Go Seek.
C: My favorite part is just, I can’t pick a favorite ‘cause there’s so many things, but I guess if I had to wrap it all up in one word, it’s all the endless opportunities that have come to me because of “Hitstreak”. I’m writing my own original songs and I’m getting styled by BeautyBaby44, Lindsay Hughes, which I’m a big fan of hers. I watch her YouTube channel. I actually watched some new YouTube vlogs last night, like I love her. I really do. She’s a fashion guru I listen to very deeply, so when she got to style me, I kind of, like, had that moment of starstruck – so yeah, I love her.
So you’re very into fashion also?
C: Yes, actually I do. I love fashion. I love it. I love fashion. I love shopping. I’m a shopaholic, I guess.
How is the process of filming the show for mobile phones and the web different than filming for a show that’s filmed for the larger screen? Or have you guys worked on a show before?
C: You know what? I don’t see much of a difference.
M: I think if you’re going to do it on a larger screen, you’re probably not going to incorporate so many close ups because people like to see the actual set.
C: Right, so you have a wider shot. [In working on “Hitstreak”’s unusual schedule] It’s spontaneous and it goes in a certain flow. And there’s something different and new every day and we just see how it goes when we get here. So it’s just awesome.
N: I do. I’ve been on some Nickelodeon shows and some Disney shows and I believe the whole shooting process is different. They have huge soundstages. They work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. kind of day, like an actual job. This [“Hitstreak”] is a lot more free flowing. Sometimes we use Instagram, it’s very Instagram integrated. That’s kind of a tongue twister, but what I mean by that, is we go outside and we’ll shoot Instagrams. That’ll be part of the story line and that’s something you don’t see on Nickelodeon and Disney. Things like that really make every day interesting and unique and different. “Hitstreak” is more of pleasure than a job. I love being here.
What would you say to those who would compare your show to Glee?
M: Well, I don’t watch “Glee”.
C: Having her said that, that’s a big difference. We have a different age group ‘cause we don’t go into such risqué stuff. We keep it very real, family friendly, anyone can watch type of show. The one thing we are like “Glee” in is we talk about positivity and that there’s strength in all of us.
N: I don’t know! I’ve never watched it. I can’t get into that stuff because – my personality- is that once I start watching something, I will get addicted (smiles). My friend shoots on the same lot, so that almost enticed me, but I couldn’t do it. Glee is an amazing show though, so if they’re comparing us to the next “Glee”, that’s really a great form of flattery.
Anything else you want to add?
N: Hi Mom! (laughs).
C: I love the color pink. And sparkles.
M: Oh! Did you hear that I designed Studio G?
M: Yeah. It took me a while, but it was fun. She (gesturing to Crystal) helped me. We added some sparkles. So they think it’s like a rainbow or something.
So were the pink guitars your idea?
M: Yes. And we both pretty much loved them so much that we got two. You never know, one day you might do a duet.
C: You know, one for Brian, one for Noah. They look much more manly with a pink guitar (laughs).
No matter the color of the guitars, I get the sense that something very good is brewing in Miami Beach. Look for great things to come from these young artists.