Joseph Gordon-Levitt started hitRECord by talking to himself. Although he's currently one of Hollywood's most marketable movie stars, in 2005 "Third Rock From the Sun" had ended its run four years earlier and he'd taken a break from acting for college. And he couldn't book a job.
"Back then, [hitRECord] wasn't a production company, it wasn't a website; it was something I said to myself," said Gordon-Levitt. "I wanted to be in challenging movies and no one thought I could do it. The round red record button became this sort of symbol for me. I would be the one to push the button."
Eight years later, hitRECord is an "open collaborative production company," one that has turned thousands of users into artistic collaborators. Users contribute their work to the site, where the community builds on and remixes it. The results are film, books, music and live events that have been hosted everywhere from dive bars to Sundance. Now the company is in serious expansion mode as it prepares to take the approach to its first TV show, which will air on Participant's new Pivot network.
While Gordon-Levitt has no intention of leaving acting, it's clear that his work with hitRECord creates a palpable high. "I love acting in movies and I hope I can do it for the rest of my life," he said. "But the feeling I get when I make something and someone remixes it and someone makes something new out of it -- that's exciting to me and thrilling."
Getting the show on Pivot. " It's definitely going to be the most important project we've ever done."
"This show is really challenging legally. When you tell TV attorneys that you're going to be using work from artists all over the world…it's been an uphill battle, with frustrating moments and setbacks. A lot of credit is due to the people I work with and Pivot."
Growing the company. hitRECord has about 5 employees, but now will more than double to include roles like a general manager and controller. "And the TV show will have a hell of a lot more than that," Gordon-Leavitt said.
"I think hitRECord can be a massive production company, like Steve Spielberg with Dreamworks," he said. "In the long term, I think hitRECord has the capability to do all of that. Dreamworks has development executives; we have 200,000 people who are working together. But right now we're focused on the TV show."