Birthday Songs & Doughnuts

Interning at Madhouse
Joel Helmick, Logan Brown, and Ryan Wright
Joel Helmick, Logan Brown, and Ryan Wright

At Madhouse, we have a special, somewhat odd tradition that we engage in for birthdays in the office. Sure, we get treats and write notes to the birthday celebrant on the dry-erase wall in the collaboration room, but what makes it special is singing the “Happy Birthday” song.

Singing might be a stretch. Singing it badly would not. In fact, the worse the rendition sounds, the better. We pride ourselves on outdoing the last bad version of it.

And if you ask any of our three interns from the summer of 2018, they will tell you: It’s an experience. Logan Brown, a junior at Bowling Green State University majoring in marketing, said, “The birthday song changes you.”

Experiencing the birthday song a la the Madhouse crew isn’t the only thing that can change a person. Being an intern at Madhouse means becoming part of the team and being exposed to the culture of an agency.

“Hands down, my favorite part about working at Madhouse is the people,” said Ryan Wright, a senior at Central Michigan University majoring in broadcasting and cinematic arts. “The people and work environment at Madhouse are unparalleled. Everyone is so creative, and it’s easy to enjoy the work you’re doing when there are others around you who are passionate about what they do,” added Joel Helmick, a senior at Maumee Valley Country Day School in Toledo.

From getting up at 4 a.m. to shoot a sunrise for a project to seeing a race horse running on a treadmill, the experiences these three students had this summer were things they think will help them become better visual communicators. Picking a favorite experience for some was difficult.

“It’s tough to pick one favorite memory, but if I had to choose, it would be working on the short film, ‘1%.’ I loved how the entire video team came together to make a passion project starring two interns,” said Wright.

Interning at Madhouse doesn’t mean cleaning out the studio and getting doughnuts for the staff. Although no one at Madhouse looks unfavorably at someone for bringing in doughnuts. “I felt like a real member of the team instead of just an intern,” said Helmick.

And Brown, who was known to bring in doughnuts, said, “I didn’t feel like an intern who was occasionally handed a camera to shoot a simple shot. I was the guy who could brainstorm ideas, shoot them, and then see them tell a story in the final video.”

Does interning here help students with career goals? According to these guys, apparently so.

“I want to create unique and interesting content for brands, whether that be as a director, cinematographer, or member of a creative collective,” said Wright. “I’ve been a part of some incredible commercial productions, and I’ve created some of my favorite work while doing so.” “Experiencing every part of multiple projects was a great learning tool to help me see how to succeed,” Helmick added.

So is working at Madhouse worth an entire summer of strange birthday traditions and early morning shoots?

“Yes, yes, and yes,” said Brown.

Gaining more insight was also a benefit, according to Helmick. “Working here this summer helped me to decide on a more specific aspect other than just ‘filming things,’” he said.

“I gained a ton of experience while working at Madhouse. Being able to create high-level work with the video team and being able to pick up tips and tricks from everyone in the office has definitely helped to make me a better filmmaker,” said Wright.

Appreciating the focus on people and culture at Madhouse seems to be the “thing” that makes it work.

“The people at Madhouse are all genuinely friends and it makes for a great work environment,” Wright said.

And having doughnuts. And singing the birthday song. Off-key. As poorly as possible.