The actor has posted a video on his collaborative production company’s website in which he discusses his relationship with his brother Dan, who had died in 2010.
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Joseph Gordon-Levitt has always looked up to his older brother Dan. Dan, who was a photographer and a virtuoso fire-spinner, as well as the co-creator of Hitrecord, Gordon-Levitt’s open collaborative production company, which is currently in the process of shaping up the 2nd season of its Pivot variety show “Hitrecord on TV”, died unexpectedly in 2010, leaving a hole in both his younger brother’s heart and in the collective heart of the global online community he has helped build.
“Dan was a brightly positive, genuinely caring, and brilliantly inspiring person”, Gordon-Levitt wrote on his Tumblr page back in 2012, among all the other heartfelt expressions of appreciation and the praises he has lavished on his beloved brother in the years since he passed away.
In a recently-posted Hitrecord community-oriented Q & A video for a season 2 episode titled “The Number 2”, the actor opens up a bit more and discusses how his brother was a constant source of inspiration for him, having done everything first.
“Being the second child, at first, at least to me, seemed really difficult because my brother, Dan, was six and a half years older than I was … and that meant he was always better at everything, whether it was a sport or a video game, anything, ” says Gordon-Levitt, who goes by the moniker “Regular Joe” on the community’s website, on the June 5 video. “He could do it better than I could. That was really hard for me because I was competitive, but, then again, maybe it drove me in a way to, I don’t know, try harder.”
As they became older, he continues, the brothers became less competitive and more collaborative, to the point where “being a second child hardly mattered at all”.
But still, Dan had another ‘first’. “He also died first, ” Gordon-Levitt says. “So, I have that as an example, in a way. And, frankly, it makes it less scary in a way, too, knowing that he’s done it. ‘Cause all the big things that I ever had to do, he did ‘em first.”
Joseph and Dan Gordon-Levitt founded Hitrecord in 2005. It began as a way for them to seek feedback for videos they posted, but as time went on they opened the platform up to other artists and creative people who wanted to review and remix theirs and others’ work.
In January 2010 at the Sundance Film Festival, HitRecord launched its new website and introduced its new professional production methodology, allowing contributing artists to be paid for their work.
In October of the same year, Dan Gordon-Levitt, known in the Hitrecord community as “Burning Dan”, died, aged 36, leaving his younger brother as the sole manager and director of the constantly-evolving production company.
“BURNING dAN brightly embodied that bold beastly bliss sometimes referred to as ‘the creative spirit’. He was my chief collaborator on the foundational incarnations of hitRECord.org over the years and continues to inspire us ever the more.” Gordon-Levitt wrote on the website following the announcement of his brother’s premature demise.”He would absolutely positively insist that we not let this bad news deter us on our collective mission.”
In the years that followed, Hitrecord has grown into a formidable, far-reaching enterprise, publishing a wide variety of releases in a diverse range of outlets, including Sundance-screened short films, commercially successful books, community-created music albums and assorted mixed-media DVDs, while forming partnerships with HarperCollins, Levi’s and Sony, among others. In 2013 Gordon-Levitt signed a deal with the freshly-launched digital cable and satellite television channel Pivot to create the company’s first ever television show.
“Hitrecord on TV”, a variety series made collaboratively “by a community of hundreds of thousands of artists from all over the world” – as the press release states – and featuring short films, live performances, music videos, cartoons and other collaboratively-made works, premiered on January 18, 2014, and was instantaneously renewed for a second season.
Speaking at a Q & A in Park City, following the premiere of the show’s debut episode, Gordon-Levitt paid tribute to the blooming company’s deceased co-founder. “What Dan was all about was getting people to try something that they didn’t think they could do. HitRECord to him — and to me too, but really even more to him — was about somebody who was like, ‘I want to be a writer and I sometimes write, but I don’t show it anybody.’ Or, ‘I want to be a singer, but I’m too afraid to sing in front of anybody.’ And when he could get people … to do that … that was his favorite”, he told the attendees, on the verge of tears.
“It didn’t matter to him so much how it turned out or what the finished product was. He just wanted people to do it, and what you’ll find when you come to our site is, even though there’s all this professional production going on and we’re making a television show, there’s a lot of stuff going on besides that; stuff that won’t make it onto the show — because I’m too brutal a director — but nonetheless, is received with such warmth and encouragement, and that always makes me think of him because that’s what he did, more than I did. … He would be so fucking happy to see all of you guys here, so thanks so much.”
Actor, screenwriter & director Joseph Gordon-Levitt was born and raised in the Sherman Oaks neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. His father, Dennis Levitt, was news director of the Pacifica radio station, while his mother, Jane Gordon, worked as the program guide editor for the same station. Jane’s father and Joseph’s grandfather was Michael Gordon, a high profile Hollywood film director during the post-war years.
During the 1980’s, Gordon-Levitt appeared in a number of movies as a child star, as well as in the highly popular TV series “Third Rock from the Sun”, playing the part of Tommy Solomon.
Upon completing his high school education, the young Gordon-Levitt took some time off from his busy television career to enroll at Columbia University, where he began studying history, literature, and French poetry. However, the call of the film set was to prove too strong and he was soon picking up increasingly high-profile starring roles in a number of major movies, including “Inception”, “50/50”, “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Looper”.
In 2013, he made his feature film directing and screenwriting debut with “Don Jon”, a comedy film in which he also stars.