Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s startup crowdsources Sundance short film

When he’s not busy attending starring in the opening film of the Toronto International Film Festival or the latest Batman movie, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is at work running his Internet startup HitRecord.

Founded in 2007 by Gordon-Levitt and his brother, the Web-based firm invites artistically-minded people to join its community to contribute new works and remix the work of others. This collaborative method of working was used by the Hollywood actor himself to produce an animated short film that premiered at this month’s Sundance Film Festival. The Man with a Turnip for a Head started as a poem written by a woman in Scotland.

“You don’t have to be a big multinational conglomerate to distribute something any more, you can use the Internet,” Gordon-Levitt says. He appeared on stage at IBM Connect 2013 at Walt Disney World in Florida today hot off the heels of attending Sundance.

Seeing the poem voted up by the HitRecord community, Gordon-Levitt liked the quirky, darkly humerous poem. So he asked actor Gary Oldman, a co-star in The Dark Knight Rises , to record a reading of the poem. Then he posted it to HitRecord and challenged the community to create a short animation of the poem, using Oldman’s reading. That sort of collaboration on member’s works are encouraged on the site, Levitt says. The “remix” culture sees HitRecord gain non-exclusive intellectual property rights to the works uploaded. So members retain the IP of their own work, but can also use the work of others to create something new.

The Man with a Turnip for a Head was created by the HitRecord community.

“Disney didn’t come up with Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast, these stories have other origins,” he says. “Our culture puts a lot of importance on ownership, but I don’t think that’s how creativity really works.”

The collaborative atmosphere of the site has resulted in users exchanging constructive and positive feedback, Gordon-Levitt says. Better yet, the site actually sends out cheques to users that contribute to works that end up making money, as the Turnip Head piece has done.

“We’ve empowered certain individuals who’ve proven themselves,” he says. “We’ll make them a resident curator and give them the power to feature content on the site.”

No word yet on whether the next Batman movie will be created on HitRecord.

Brian JacksonBrian Jackson is the Editor at E-mail him at, follow him on Twitter, connect on , read his blog, and check out the IT Business Facebook Page.

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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