The Creative Magic of hitRECord
I recently stumbled upon a cool online community. No, it’s not the latest social networking fad (thankfully), but an online gathering driven by pure creativity. It’s called hitRECord, and it’s actually been around since 2010. HitRECord is a site (and indie production company) where users submit all manner of artistic endeavours (videos, music, illustrations, stories, etc.) and work together to combine them into collaborative artworks.
Led by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who goes by the online handle RegularJOE), hitRECord strikes me as a perfect example of the raw creative power of the Internet. So far, hitRECord has made a presence for itself at film festivals, in self-published books and, of course, online. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
I came across hitRECord last week when Gordon-Levitt (of 500 Days of Summer and Inception) appeared in an “Songify The News” video by the Gregory Brothers. The Gregory Brothers included a link to hitRECord’s YouTube channel in the description of the video, and curious Internet user that I am, I started going through some of the material posted on the channel. Most of the videos were status updates by Gordon-Levitt on hitRECord projects, and my curiosity was officially piqued.
The next stop was hitRECord’s main site. There, I found out that user submissions are often very short bits and pieces, like a couple of seconds of a voiceover track, a few chords of music, or some drawings of whimsical characters. Over a few months, the final product of a collaboration (some of which involve thousands of submissions from hundreds of users) is guided by Gordon-Levitt. Depending on the medium of the production, it’s then distributed either online or in the real world.
The members of hitRECord aren’t just doing this for fun. The site makes it clear that it's also a production company, but it splits the profits from successful productions 50/50 with its users. In a video introduction to the site, Gordon-Levitt says that the company sent out nearly $50,000 in cheques to its members in 2010.
What can you expect to find in a production by hitRECord? After some browsing of the biggest hits on the site, two videos stood out for me. One was “Morgan M. Morgansen’s Date With Destiny”, a short film starring Gordon-Levitt made up of quirky illustrations, clever animation and a purposefully tongue-tying script. The other video was “and a new earth”, a stream-of-consciousness audiovisual piece with a mirrored time-lapse view of a drive down a highway, accompanied by a weirdly philosophical script read by a computer.
You don’t just find completed pieces on the hitRECord site. You can also look at or listen to the raw elements of future productions. The idea is that new visitors to the site who leaf through the material might be inspired to build something out of the components, or create something to submit to the collection. It’s that potential for unfettered, collaborative creativity that really makes this site stand out compared to other creative outlets like YouTube and Vimeo.
It’s one thing to have a channel on a video-sharing site and participate in the social aspect of viewing other users’ creations and commenting on them. HitRECord takes that process to the next level, harnessing the ideas of a large group to make something very special. That’s not to say that YouTube or Vimeo are isolationist, but I’m simply impressed by the basic principles behind hitRECord. It makes me wish that more production companies operated on their wavelength.
Then again, it’s possible that the collaborative atmosphere of hitRECord couldn’t be replicated in an offline context. There’s something about the instantaneous link between people afforded by the Internet that, regardless of geographic location, allows hitRECord to generate such creative material. I’d encourage everyone reading this article to poke around the hitRECord site and see for yourselves. Who knows, maybe some of you could end up being part of hitRECord’s next project – I know I’m tempted.
What do you think of the ideas behind hitRECord? Could you see yourself joining their community? Or is it one online creative community too many? Post your thoughts in the comments section. If you liked this article, share it with your friends, and if you want to browse through my recent Internet-related posts, check out the links below!
...Or, you can read up on my favourite YouTubers in my YouTuber Spotlight series