In the first episode of Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s new Pivot series “HitRECord on TV,” the actor and sometimes director is nearly jumping off the screen in excitement. That, he explains, is because he really is that thrilled about this project.
“It certainly is a great deal of wish fulfillment for me, this show. It’s a long time coming,” Gordon-Levitt tells Zap2it and a group of reporters at TCA 2014 winter press tour. “If you notice that I’m excited, it’s because I am.”
HitRECord, an online collaborative production company, was originally started by Gordon-Levitt in 2005 with his brother Dan Gordon-Levitt as a way for them to post videos. They later relaunched the site in January 2010 at Sundance Film Festival as a medium for others to take part in this community of collaborators whose joint mission was to work together to create new art. JGL makes it clear in HitRECord’s mission statement that those looking for individual fame should turn to YouTube and MySpace, while those who wanted to work with peers should stay with them.
Over time HitRECord’s popularity grew, and its community (which is filled slightly more with females than with males) created projects like “The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories” books and the “Move on the Sun” CD, as well as a number of short films. With variety show “HitRECord on TV,” JGL and executive producers Jared Geller and Brian Graden are hoping to expand HitRECord’s audience even more — especially since Pivot recently announced a Season 2.
“One of the things that’s exciting about being able to do a second season is we hope that, now that people will see what it is that we’re making, it will draw even more people to come and contribute and collaborate with us,” Geller tells Zap2it. “What we’ve been finding for the past four or five years that we’ve been doing this is the more people who collaborate, the wider the funnel is, the better the art is.”
In the first episode, which premieres on Pivot on Jan. 18 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, Elle Fanning plays the central character in a short film. In episode 2, Tony Danza performs with Gordon-Levitt. Later episodes feature a Rian Johnson-scripted short about an old shoe being thrown away, while Gordon-Levitt’s “Don Jon” star Scarlett Johansson contributes her voice to a piece called “Two Player Game” about dating. But the celebrity guests in each episode aren’t the draw of “HitRECord on TV;” it’s the community.
“We didn’t want to do a song with Tony Danza because it was Tony Danza. It was because it made so much sense to do that. We wanted to do a musical number with Joe and someone, and Tony was the perfect fit,” Geller explains. “Certain kinds of collaboration, we have to work with artists in person to do that.”
While Geller and Graden say they’re open to maybe one day doing acting casting calls to have HitRECord community members take the actor roles instead of famous actors, Gordon-Levitt is against it. He doesn’t like the way it constricts who has the opportunity to participate.
“I don’t love that idea because then it’s limited to people in LA,” he says. “Who doesn’t like the idea of allowing great artists all over the world to come together and work together and participate and have an audience?”
Gordon-Levitt spent all of 2013 making “HitRECord on TV’s” first season, with the exception of a week shooting “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” and promoting “Don Jon.” He doesn’t expect Season 2 to take as much time to make because his team resolved any hiccups in production during Season 1. Up next, he and Graden and Geller are taking “HitRECord on TV’s” first four episodes to Sundance where they’ll give it its “coming out party,” and they couldn’t be more thrilled.
“It’s only the second time in television history that a television show is premiering at the film festival, and so to be recognized by Sundance as an official selection of the festival is sensational. It feels really good,” Geller says.
Gordon-Levitt makes a point of saying that he looks up to Robert Redford‘s creation of Sundance, which he clearly feels mirrors the creation of HitRECord. So would he ever want to make a physical HitRECord festival like Sundance?
“Who knows? The possibilities are endless,” JGL says with a coy smile.
Geller and Graden also feel that they could potentially release HitRECord feature films one day. But for now, it’s about helping “HitRECord on TV” resonate with a new audience.
“It’s touching something deeper in people who are tired of TV where it’s all about competing or being the best or slapping your friends or whatever,” Graden says. “It’s somehow resonating with people who hope that cooperation, collaboration and creativity could be on television; could touch those values.”
“HitRECord on TV” premieres on Saturday, Jan. 18 at 10 p.m. on Pivot.