HITRECORD.ORG POSTER RENDITION OF JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT'S SPARKS. PHOTO COURTESY OF: HITRECORD.ORG.
Most often an actor’s use for the Internet (outside of Googling themselves) is to build exposure either through a Web site or making a profile on the countless number of social networking sites. But as with the roles he’s taken through his career, like Mysterious Skin and Brick, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has never succumbed to the norm. So when he decided to make his mark on the Web it wasn’t for self-indulgent self-promotion but as a way to build a community and elevate the art.
In a venture he’s been molding for the last five years, Gordon-Levitt has created hitRECord.org, a site where artists and filmmakers can go to post their work and then collaborate with a community of users who can contribute to the work by adding their own tweaks, or as Gordon-Levitt puts it, remixing. Gordon-Levitt calls this the anti-YouTube in that there’s no negativity toward what is put up, just encouragement. "This is my whole take on the Internet creative culture," Gordon-Levitt says. "Why would you take time out to be negative? Instead of posting something that’s negative I’d rather move on and look for something good. Everyone [who comes to the site] understands this and has built a positive community." He continues: "What is good about hitRECord is that you don’t have to confront that blank page. I see what’s getting a lot of hearts (the way works are rated on the site), I add something to it and reupload it. The idea is if lots of people do that we’ll get a collective refining of our records. It’s not about an individual author; it’s the desires of what I hope will be hundreds of refinements."
Having always been interested in computer technology since he was a kid playing on his family’s Commodore 64, Gordon-Levitt and his brother, "Burning" Dan, came up with the idea for the site when Gordon-Levitt wanted a platform to show off the shorts he was mak-ing with his DV camera in between acting gigs. Now the two plan to take the site to the next level by making more user-friendly features and building awareness of the site’s existence. Currently Gordon-Levitt says there are about five to 10 dedicated registered users who put up their work or add their talents to others. But he’s shocked there are even that many, as up until now the site has only been a hobby of his.
Gordon-Levitt (whose username on the site is "RegularJOE") started to get serious about hitRECord after recently directing his first short film, an adaptation of an Elmore Leonard short story, Sparks, and seeing the support from the users who made their own versions of the film’s poster he uploaded. The short was selected to this year’s Sundance Film Festival under his hitRECord production banner and will be featured on the Killshot DVD, which Gordon-Levitt starred in.
Having high hopes for where the site can go, Gordon-Levitt says the main goal will be to produce community-created projects that he can showcase at festivals and promote for distribution. "The truth is the traditional forms of entertainment are outdated," he says. "This is how I would like to do my work in front of and behind the camera in the future. Soon the Internet is going to be the only platform. Who knows, maybe in three years we’ll have hitRECord cinema!"