With hitRECord.org, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is creating festival-quality, crowdsourced films

By Lindsey Bahr
September 27, 2013 at 04:00 AM EDT

Don’t call his agent, for starters. Instead, log on to hitRECord.org and join (for free) a community of creative types who are uploading their stories, poems, artwork, and music to the site. Gordon-Levitt and the hitRECord team develop their favorite ideas into things like the short film The Man With a Turnip for a Head, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last year. Here’s a breakdown of how that particular project came together.

Step 1
The Writer
A U.K.-based artist with the screen name Metaphorest writes a narrative poem, ”The Man With a Turnip for a Head,” and uploads it to hitRECord. Gordon-Levitt notices.

Step 2
The Star
Gordon-Levitt asks his Dark Knight Rises costar Gary Oldman to do a reading of ”Turnip” in front of an audience at L.A.’s Orpheum Theatre. The reading is filmed by three professional cameras, as well as 20 audience members who upload their own camera-phone videos of the event.

Step 3
The Illustration
Gordon-Levitt posts the audio of Oldman’s reading on hitRECord and challenges members to figure out what a man with a turnip head looks like. He gets 145 submissions, which he and his team whittle down to one winner.

Step 4
The Animation
With the turnip-head figure already designed, Gordon-Levitt asks members to create a world around him, including props, cityscapes, and supporting characters. HitRECord animator MarieIv uses those submissions to bring the story to life.

Step 5
The Score
Finally, Gordon-Levitt calls on composers to write a score. He chooses one, and then asks member musicians to record it with individual instruments. A sound producer arranges those audio files into a finished piece of music. Just like that, they have a Sundance-worthy ”crowdsourced” film.