Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s online collaborative production company has found a home on TV. And on January 18th, HITRECORD ON TV will have its debut on Pivot. But given the series’ content necessitates itself on collaborators mined via the Internet, it only makes sense that the first episode would be unleashed on the online masses ahead of schedule. And it’s here — right now! — for you to watch and get to know.
The format of the show is fairly simple: a series of shorts, be it films, stories, songs, or some combination thereof, are produced by the community based on a theme chosen by Gordon-Levitt. Everything on this show — and we mean literally everything — is a collaboration between Gordon-Levitt and the website’s members. Right down to the bumpers on either side of the commercial breaks. Because HITRECORD ON TV is all about capturing moments and the necessity to do so — no matter how big or small — as its synonymous tagline urges at the episodes’ start: “Are we RECording?”
The show’s concept feels simultaneously daring and not. After all, television shows are huge productions with just as many people involved in getting them off the ground. What makes HitRECord different is the democratization of the process. Collaborators don’t need to live in Los Angeles or New York or some other entertainment town to have their work made visible — its inclusion rests solely in the hands of its own merits and relation to the theme. (And yes: everybody does get paid.)
The show sticks to a traditional set up, allowing for four separate collaborations to make their small screen debut. Given that the series is new, there’s heaping helpings of expository moments featuring Gordon-Levitt. Though at times heavy-handed and a bit frenetic (so much LA streetwalking!), they help to acclimate the audience to what is, really, a digitally produced variety show. Before each short takes off, Gordon-Levitt posits questions or ideas and sets the scene for the evolution of the collaboration that in turn created the resulting video.
So far, the videos are no slouches and sure to appeal to the increasingly digital world in which we live. Charming flights of fancy, a grabbag of creative outlooks mashed-up into one, are ultimately what drive the finished project. The first short film, titled “First Stars I See Tonight,” features Elle Fanning and the chillingly beautiful tale of collaborator Roswell Grey’s first time looking at the stars, as told through a Scottish narration. Featuring the work of over 1,400 contributors, the video takes on a whimsical and magical light about the universe, how we see it, and the magic we all create simply by existing in our own unique and varied ways.
“One Living Organism” discusses the miraculous nature surrounding the Pando Forest in Utah in juxtaposition to the equally-as-curious Honey Mushroom. What started out as a single tree grew into an increasingly complex underground root system that ended up sprouting more trees with identical DNA, categorizing the forest itself — made up of many, many trees — as one single living organism. The trees, allegedly, whisper to each other.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s the giant Honey Mushroom that kills trees to survive. The underground “Humongous Fungus” leaves dead trees in its wake and is also considered a massive genetic identical. So: are people the harmonious forest or the parasitic mushroom? It’s an interesting and apt metaphor for life on earth and the interconnectedness of humanity as told through nature, though we would’ve loved to see a creative look at the question as a result. Instead we are left to ponder the idea solo. The show really is at its best when its bringing these worlds to life.
Other additions include “One Song,” a cartoon about musicians’ ultimate enemy: silence. Metalheads, pop princesses, gloomy goth rockers, and electronic nerds all team up to create one single song to beat the silence. The show ends with “You’re Not The Only One,” a collaborative song between HitRECorders WonderBoy and Jerzy Jung, which then received lyrical life from Gordon-Levitt. Though, like all things HitRECord, it doesn’t end up being a three-person show. A whole slew of HitRECorders get in on the action, singing right alongside Gordon-Levitt and Co. to close out the first episode. It’s a dynamic concept rife with potential, though only time will tell if it’s a trailblazer or a precursor to the evolution of television.
HITRECORD ON TV premieres on Pivot January 18th.