Joe on Art, Collaboration, The Internet, And Lerner
Written by Bwog Staff
Katheryn Thayer saw JGL IRL (!) this afternoon, promoting his new project hitRECord. CUNUFF organized the event.
Joseph Gordon Levitt (but please, call him Joe) is pretty much a movie star and the founder of hitRECord.org: a website that started as an outlet for his own personal creativity and exploded into an international network of artistic contributors and editors. Until recently, it was, as Levitt describes it, “kinda informal, kinda illegal,” but now it is 100% all good with the law, and Joe came to Columbia to tell us all about it.
A former Columbia student, he greeted the audience by saying: “Lerner fucking Haaallll..” And though he dropped out, he assured us that it “was really awesome here.” He asked everyone to film and record his presentation, as he records the audience, and later everyone can go to his website to work together on editing it. His aim is to make a documentary about what it is to be an artist today, and how the Internet is connecting people and promoting group collaboration in the artistic process. Making full use of the technology shaping current media consumption, his presentation included Q&A over Twitter, videos of projects done through the site, and an “upload station” in the back where the audience could upload footage from the meeting.
Levitt says he dropped out eight years ago because he got his first editing gig, but more importantly, he realized that he has always learned better by doing than studying. He spoke a bit about the industry: “If I wanted to make money I’d produce a reality show or something. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Well actually, there is.” Though the long line of girls waiting to get into Roone suggested this was kinda a fan event, when Joe asked for hands of artists, musicians, editors, and writers, the response suggested that people came not (entirely) for the hot movie star but for just Joe. He chirped enthusiastically, “I’m glad most of you are here because you’re down to make stuff, because so am I!” and even called on those who don’t do art or editing to contribute by going through content and “liking” the best work so that the really good stuff gets noticed.
The creation of hitRECord.org reflects a view that people should work together without pretension, and though the site recognizes individual artists, creativity should be a populist project. He noted that he liked the fact that Obama puts all his speeches in the public domain to be seen and shared with everyone, but lamented that they are seldom watched because they “don’t have the theme songs and shit that CNN does.” Luckily, his website is a prime birthplace for projects that could merge art and politics, and he hopes hitRECord will eventually include cut speeches that could incite more people to tune in.
Despite the fact that he is putting the power of entertainment in the hands of the masses, Joe reports that the industry has responded well to his project. Joe has even been invited to join the Board of Trustees at the Sundance Festival. The entertainment business likes the new artistic voices; and the Internet makes it easy for people to get connected. He says to be recognized today, artists really don’t have to move to LA and get an agent, “unless you wanna be a celebrity, then you should go get an agent and get your boobs done.”
Columbia was lucky to host the presentation; after his brother died 6 weeks ago, Joe said he needed to cancel some of the more high energy shows because the loss has been so hard on him. He says talking about hitRECord like he did tonight has become a form of therapy for him, probably because his brother worked with him on the first several versions of the website.
Joe, we’re glad you stopped by. Come back soon.