Hitting RECord with Joseph Gordon-Levitt

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hitRECord, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s open collaborative production company, was launched in 2005 and has recently taken off. Producing short films and videos using text, imagery and music from online contributors around the world, hitRECord currently has over 80,000 members and is growing every day. Gordon-Levitt even has a television deal with Pivot to produce a show which features artists from hitRECord’s website. The actor-writer-director media mogul can now add “television host” to his impressive resume.

At a Q&A session over lunch at Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco, JGL sat down to talk about the symbol for his company, the creative process and even the comparisons between his two movies “(500) Days of Summer” and “Don Jon.”

On hitRECord’s recording symbol:  (The button) is a symbol to be creative. When I was in my early twenties I went to college and then I stopped for a while and when I wanted to start acting again I couldn’t get a job. It can kind of suck as an actor because you’re reliant on others to hire you and outside of that you’re a little stuck. I realized that that wasn’t going to work for me.  I couldn’t rely on that. I had to take responsibility for my own creativity. That was the beginning of it. The button became the symbol like, “I’m going to push the button and hit record.” And then it grew. I was making little short films and videos and my brother helped me with the little website. It evolved really gradually. At no point was I like, “Eureka! I know what I’ll do!” It was a gradual feedback loop with a growing community.

On the commonalities between “500 Days of Summer” and “Don Jon”: (“(500) Days of Summer’s” Tom Hansen) doesn’t listen to a word (Summer Finn) says. In one scene, she starts telling him her dream and the narrator starts talking over her. The narrator is interesting in “(500) Days of Summer.” He has this authoritative voice but he’s really just Tom’s point of view and often times he is misguided.

As she’s telling him her dream, the narrator comes in and is like, “Tom knew that he was special now and not many people were getting this chance.” It’s completely self-obsessed. She finishes talking about the dream and says, “I haven’t told that to anyone yet.” And that’s the only thing Tom hears. He didn’t listen to any specifics of the dream. His response is, “I guess I’m not just anyone.”

That’s the biggest dick thing to say to a woman who just told you about her dream. And that doesn’t mean Tom is a dick; he’s just sort of selfish and he has some growing to do and by the end of the movie he has grown a bit. Same with Jon (in “Don Jon”). By the end of the movie he’s grown up. That’s just a comparison I’d like to point out.

On what JGL tells aspiring artists: Do it. Don’t wait for someone to hire you. Find a camera. Do it on your phone. That’s okay. Cut it up with iMovie. Put it out there. Make stuff. Start with something small. And if it sucks that’s totally fine. You’ll learn. No one’s first thing is ever great. That’s a trap we often fall in to.

And I think this relates to entrepreneurship as well: you so want to make it perfect that you never go for it because you’re worried it won’t be perfect. You have to go and try and maybe mess up and try again.

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