When I told my sister that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was coming to speak at Stanford, her exact response was “Whwhwhferdolikftgrol8tgkjiurfikrfik!n!! I AM SO F*CKING JEALOUS! WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT????” I’m not sure how to pronounce the new word(s?) she invented at the start of her text, but it somehow expressed exactly how I felt as the actor/director walked onto the stage yesterday evening at Cubberly.
It’s probably obvious by now that I, like a good 80% of the audience, felt I was no doubt attending a talk by the future father of my children. Somehow Gordon-Levitt is even more charming and likable in person than he is on the screen. He was also incredibly down to earth. My neighbor and I just about lost it when he brought someone up on stage and said, “Hi, I’m Joe.” He was funny, passionate, and grounded, which really allowed me to (kinda) put my star-struck state aside and pay attention to his presentation about hitRECord.org.
The site was started back in ’05 in order to work collaboratively with people across the world on a wide range of creative projects. People upload their work to hitRECord and it gets “remixed” multiple times until it is released in its final, collectively achieved form. Throughout the night, Gordon-Levitt and his producers showed several recently completed films, including “Morgan M. Morgansen’s Date with Destiny”.
The show was pretty interactive. Gordon-Levitt had people tweet about a memorable movie experience and then come up to talk to the audience about it. At one point, a ton of people were on stage singing a song developed by hitRECord users. He also had several people perform readings (like this one) from The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories throughout the night. According to JGL, “Stanford kicks the ass of L.A.” when it comes to reading tiny stories aloud. So we can pat ourselves on the back for that one. Gordon-Levitt really emphasized the importance of group collaboration with all the projects shown as well as amongst the people in the audience. Computers were even set up at the back of the auditorium for audience members to upload any good footage they got of the event.
The rest of the show consisted of upcoming hitRECord projects, along with a showing of the Hesher trailer, and ended with JGL performing an awesome live narration of “Morgan and Destiny’s Eleventeeth Date.” The night felt kind of random at times, like when JGL whipped out his guitar and sang a cover of “You Can’t Hurry Love”. Not that I’m complaining. Shoot. I get to say that I (along with a couple hundred others…) was semi-serenaded by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Like James Franco, (who visited campus earlier this year) with his six million college degrees and impressive film work, JGL is incredibly multitalented. He has performed well in blockbusters like Inception as well as acclaimed indie films like Brick, he’s passionate about collaboration through hitRECord, he curses like a sailor (is it weird that I like that about him?), he likes going to movies alone to have a real audience experience, and did I mention he sings in French? I can’t even…
If you feel inspired to contribute to hitRECord projects, be sure to check out the site. JGL encouraged all filmmakers, musicians, writers, photographers, etc. to get involved. Even though I didn’t make it to the other events in the April Speakers series, I’m going to go ahead and say that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was one of the most entertaining and engaging speakers to visit campus this month.