Cody Cousino / Photo editor
For most of his life, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was solely deemed an actor.
That was until six years ago when he created hitRECord.org.
The star actor, best known for roles in “3rd Rock from the Sun,” “10 Things I Hate About You” and “Inception,” created hitRECord, an open-collaborative production company, meaning anybody can create something and post it to the site for others to remix and recreate as they see fit.
The site, however, started off as just a place for Gordon-Levitt to show off the art he created in his spare time.
“It wasn’t a collaborative production company at all, it was far from it,” he told The Lantern before performing Monday in the Ohio Union’s Archie M. Griffin Grand Ballroom.
Once fans started noticing the work he was doing, they would post messages and become more involved in the overall process of what he was creating, and the website grew exponentially.
“A community sort of sprouted up around that (the site) organically and people were starting to post messages and form a real communal vibe that was actually really encouraging,” he said. “Then we started making things together.”
On the website, artists contribute anything from a song to a tiny story to a screenplay and other artists build off those ideas to help create another piece of art until the song has an animated video or the tiny story has a voiceover from somebody in another country or the screenplay is acted out by Gordon-Levitt himself.
The beginning of 2010 marked the official start of the professional aspect of the website, meaning profits were shared and the company started producing live events, such as his appearance at OSU.
The live events showcase works done by artists on the site, predominantly short films, but also includes live music from Gordon-Levitt.
Creating original material, or the lack thereof, was the inspiration behind the term “hitRECord,” Gordon-Levitt said.
“It was just a little personal thing I would say to myself when I was kind of trying to find motivation to buckle down and make things and be creative,” he said.
Now, Gordon-Levitt enlists the live audience to help create content for the website, which is why he encourages everybody to record the hitRECord events.
Having the audience record the shows helps to create a closer relationship between who is on stage and who is watching, he said.
“A fundamental part of what I’m trying to make happen with hitRECord is blending, or breaking down, that barrier between what’s traditionally called an artist and what’s traditionally called an audience,” he said.
Gordon-Levitt said he wants he wants to make audiences more active than they are.
“The general model is the artist makes something and broadcasts it to an audience who has to just sit there and watch passively,” Gordon-Levitt said. “I think we’ve gone way too far in that direction in our culture.”
Admitting that this method of entertainment works, Gordon-Levitt said there’s more merit to the idea of having the audience participate in the creativity behind what’s being shown, which creates a more communal, collaborative atmosphere.
Gordon-Levitt strives to break down the fourth wall between the audience and those onstage during shows.
“I just want to make great art together, with a community of people,” he said.
Gordon-Levitt’s enthusiasm for the creation of art took some OSU students by surprise.
Katie Davis, a first-year in theatre, was pleasantly surprised by how passionately Gordon-Levitt displayed the creations from hitRECord.
“I like that he views art as more than just his specific area of it, like, just acting,” she said. “He views it as a much broader subject.”
John Ross, a first-year in film and business, added that while he didn’t know about hitRECord before the show, he was impressed with the extent the company goes to get works of art produced.
“I didn’t realize how in depth it is with collaboration, (with) … getting indie projects produced,” he said.
Davis added, “I don’t know that many celebrities that … really care that much about people that aren’t, what he said, in Hollywood. He thinks that it is just as important as (what) people in Hollywood are doing.”
What hitRECord produces is so important to Gordon-Levitt that a CD, DVD and book package was released in September, which featured a number of short stories and films.
The CD, titled “RECollection: Vol. 1″ featured songs by Gordon-Levitt himself and one, “Nebulullaby,” by Sean Lennon.
Despite all of the work Gordon-Levitt has put into hitRECord over the past year, he still hasn’t forgotten the profession that made him famous: acting.
Gordon-Levitt is currently filming “The Dark Knight Rises,” the latest Batman installment, directed by Christopher Nolan, who also worked with Gordon-Levitt on “Inception.”
Nolan isn’t the only familiar face from “Inception” involved in the film, Tom Hardy and Marion Cotillard will also star in the movie.
Working with the same people on both movies creates a familial atmosphere, Gordon-Levitt said.
“Everyone (on set) is really excited about what we’re making ‘cause everyone knows we’re making something good,” Gordon-Levitt said. “We’re not just doing it for a paycheck, we’re not just punching the clock, everyone really cares about the movie, and that always makes it way more fun to do.”