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“Let's make a sketch and put it on YouTube!” Elena Crevello says excitedly to Heidi Niedermeyer, as they walk down a Los Angeles street. Cut. “I can't, I have improv,” Niedermeyer, sitting alone on a ledge, says into a cellphone. Cut.
These bits of dialogue are from “Shit People Say in L.A.,” which has 1.9 million views, but they're also not far from a description of how the video got made.
Crevello and Niedermeyer met at a middle-school theater camp in Illinois before both ended up at college in New York City. The pair was living in L.A., though, when they saw “Shit New Yorkers Say” on a Monday in January. By the next Monday, they had shot, edited and posted the Los Angeles analogue.
“Shit People Say in L.A.”
The video racked up 300,000 views by the end of its first day, and a million after three days. It ricocheted around the Internet, picked up by Perez Hilton, LAist and (ahem) L.A. Weekly. Carson Daly aired the audio on his morning radio show. The meme eventually would include dozens of videos, including “Shit Sri Lankan Mothers Say.”
Crevello, originally from California's central coast, moved to Los Angeles seven years ago after college, to pursue acting. Niedermeyer, who grew up in Pasadena, moved back to L.A. from New York last year. Both were feeling stymied, bouncing around in theater and improv groups, before they filmed the short.
“Sometimes you just need to get away from it, because it can be so daunting and overwhelming when things aren't just falling into place,” Crevello says. “You just get caught up in I-need-to-be-successful-I-need-to-be-successful.
“I think the success comes when you're having fun with it,” she adds. Niedermeyer nods.
After the video was released, the actresses were stopped on the street constantly. They were asked to make a pledge-drive video for KCRW, the public radio station referenced in the video. They met with E! Entertainment Television's talent development team about being talking heads at the Oscars.
Up next: Why they don't want to be YouTube stars
The duo's sketch for a KCRW pledge drive, dubbed “Ghosts of KCRW”
But the heat from the “Shit People Say” meme cooled, and the people from E! never called back.
“She's like, 'Great! We'll definitely use you,' ” Niedermeyer says. “And it's been months, like: crickets.”
“We still have really good jokes about the Academy Awards!” Crevello adds, laughing.
YouTube networks have asked if they want to make money off their videos … but they haven't really followed up.
“We could, probably, make money off of YouTube,” Crevello says, hesitantly.
“But, at the same time, our end goal isn't to be YouTube stars,” Niedermeyer adds. “I don't think it's as important to me to be putting so much energy into this YouTube channel. We want to be on TV.”
The exposure from “Shit People Say in L.A.” might get them there, too — it landed them a literary agent, and hooked them up with the Mark Gordon Company, producer of Grey's Anatomy and Criminal Minds.
These days, when not at their day jobs — Crevello is a Pop Physique instructor, Niedermeyer works at a pizzeria in Pasadena — they meet at coffee shops to work on the sitcom the company is helping them pitch to ABC.