HitRECord Sparks Creative Collaboration

By James Ambroff-Tahan

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been a successful actor since childhood, but about 10 years ago he found that his creative impulses were constrained by a dependence on being hired by other people, such as directors. His desire to work creatively and make things without needing others’ approval or financial backing led him to launch the collaborative production company hitRECord.

Initially, Joseph (known to his cohorts as Joe), working with his brother, Dan, conceived of hitRECord’s website as a place where Joe could post things he was creating—the name hitRECord comes from Joe’s mantra of hitting the record button, doing it, making it, and sharing it—with a message board where people could respond. But the pair quickly noticed that people were not interested merely in watching things but also wanted to remix and build upon them, a development that excited Joe and led to a decision to directly support this remixing—to facilitate the downloading of creative works and to invite collaboration on larger projects.

In this photo taken backstage at Saturday Night Live, Joe and his brother, Dan (left), clown for the camera. Dan and Joe came up with the concept behind hitRECord together. Dan passed away in 2010. (Photo credit: hitRECord member JeffPeff.)

“People are more attracted to things they can be part of,” Joe says. “HitRECord goes beyond the structure of audience and artist, where the audience must passively consume what the artist creates.”

Since 2010, hitRECord has been a for-profit production company where amateur or professional artists of all types from all over the world—including writers, musicians, designers, animators, illustrators, and actors—can create projects; respond to artistic challenges; and contribute to, build upon, and remix other projects.

“Working this way, we make all kinds of art and media,” says hitRECord Creative Director Marke Johnson. We’ve played short films at film festivals, published books, put out records, and most recently, made two seasons of a TV show (HitRecord on TV, 2014–2015). We actually won an Emmy [for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media, Social TV Experience] for our first season. And of course, whenever any of our productions makes money, we split the profits and pay all of the contributing artists involved in its creation fairly.”

HitRECord is a large online community of people creating things together. This image of interacting shadows was created by hitRECord member Mallory.

Adobe Photoshop CC and Adobe After Effects CC have been cited as especially invaluable to many artists who have created works featured on hitRECord.

“Many of the short films we produce are animated shorts made up of all sorts of pieces—layers, characters, backgrounds, illustrations, and other graphic pieces—from artists all over the world,” Johnson explains. “Then a critical step in the process is combining and animating all those pieces together.”

An example of hitRECord’s many success stories is the animated short Little Dragon. Created by the prolific Irish musician and screenwriter Sarah Daly under the moniker Metaphorest, Little Dragon came into being after Daly’s morality poem that constitutes the essential narrative of the film was combined with the film’s inspiration, a dragon character created by a hitRECord member (with the moniker Soju Shots) from New Zealand. Little Dragon also exemplifies how hitRECord has brought together artistic talents from disparate parts of the world.

The animated short Little Dragon is a hitRECord success story—a project initiated by musician and screenwriter Sarah Daly (whose hitRECord member name is Metaphorest). Click on the image to watch.  

“It was such a joy to watch the world of the poem come to life, thanks to so many artists from all over the globe,” says Daly, who lives in Scotland and has been a hitRECord member for six years. “It’s incredible how, thanks to technology, geography just isn’t an issue anymore when it comes to creating things together.”

Check out the hitRECord website to learn more about how it works and how you can participate.

March 18, 2016

Images: courtesy of hitRECord