It’s not often that a line forms five hours before an event.
The excitement surrounding Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s appearance at USC was already evident by 3 p.m. on Monday afternoon, when students were staking their spots in line for the 8:30 p.m. talk at Bovard Auditorium.
When the lights dimmed, signaling the start of the program, the auditorium could have been confused with a Justin Bieber concert, as deafening shrieks from amorous coeds shattered the eardrums of all those in attendance.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the star of (500) Days of Summer and Inception, recently embarked on a college tour on behalf of his website, hitRECord.org, which he began in order to create a community for aspiring artists.
HitRECord is a forum for artistic collaboration via the Internet.
Similar to YouTube, users can post videos, images and stories and then collaborate with other filmmakers, writers and illustrators.
The projects become compilations of work that can be modified by users, putting the creativity into the hands of the hitRECord community. Gordon-Levitt considers himself the director of the site, occasionally picking up projects to participate in.
Gordon-Levitt aired several videos from the site, including a short film called Morgan and Destiny’s Eleventeenth Date.
The video is one installment in a series originally written by a HitRECord user under the pseudonym Metaphorest. Gordon-Levitt showed interest in the story by taking an active role in its realization in becoming a short film. He narrated the storyline and acted out the plot with friend and collaborator Lexy Hulme.
The video was uploaded to the hitRECord and worked on by illustrators and animators to create a full composite edit that was screened at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.
Though the program was shaped to promote hitRECord.org, Gordon-Levitt addressed a few questions about his acting career.
He took a unique approach to audience participation. Attendees were invited to submit questions via Twitter, which he answered throughout the talk, allowing for a real-time Q&A without the hassle of forming lines in Bovard.
When asked about the difficulties breaking into the entertainment industry, Gordon-Levitt told the audience members that taking a proactive approach by creating their own audience would be, in many ways, more effective than waiting for a “big break.”
“I don’t have any really great news or any secret handshakes to offer you … but I would definitely say if you’re really serious about becoming a professional actor, do not neglect doing it yourself,” he said. “Do not just wait for somebody to say ‘You got the part’ because I just think you’ll be a lot more fulfilled in yourself and your creativity if you do that as well as make your own stuff.”
During his college tour, Gordon-Levitt has received criticism by those who saw his program as an unabashed publicity stunt. But at USC, his talk was generally well-received by students.
“I think it’s awesome. It’s pretty innovative. I’ve never heard of anything like that, like complete collaboration of people online,” said Drake Smith, a sophomore majoring in jazz studies. “So I think it’s a great thing. It allows people — like they might not be able to get into the actual industry, but they can still contribute.”
Gordon-Levitt’s call for creativity inspired all of its attendees — from the artistically inclined to the creatively inept.
“I’m not an artist, [but] I think it’s a great concept, and maybe I will try it,” said Will Roper, a sophomore majoring in electrical engineering.