Joseph Gordon-Levitt on ‘The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories’
by Stephan Lee (Entertainment Weekly)
Inception star Joseph Gordon-Levitt isn’t just a consummate actor-artist himself — he’s inspiring a worldwide community of artists to create together through his online production company hitRECord. The latest spin-off of his collaborative multimedia project is the ingeniously illustrated Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 1, a print collection of works from the website. The title describes the book pretty accurately: Some of the stories inside are witty, some of them are meaningful, but all are very, very brief.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: For people who haven’t come into contact with hitRECord yet, explain what it is in your own words.
JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT: It’s an open, collaborative production company. As much as I love acting, I also like telling stories, making little short films, music, art, writing, etc. Normally when an actor starts a production company, it’s sort of an insular, Hollywood thing, but I wanted to collaborate with all of these artists all over the world who are making beautiful art and don’t necessarily have the connections to work in Hollywood. That’s why we use the Internet and we put these projects that we do online, and anybody can contribute to them. I’m there directing, participating, curating, and editing, and we make things together. “Tiny Stories” is our most popular collaboration that we’ve ever had. It’s really easy to contribute to it. As it says on the back on the book, we had 8,000 contributions that came into this collaboration. From that we edited it down into this tiny book.
How did you narrow all of those submissions down into this book?
Well, it takes a long time. It’s a gradual process. First of all, it’s not just me. There’s a community of almost 70,000 artists that come to our website, and they do a lot of the curating, too. The thing about hitRECord is, it’s collaborative and it’s all about remix, and it’s not so much about ownership, so a lot of the stories and illustrations that you see don’t just come from one person. Someone will write a story, someone will revise that story, and then someone else might draw a picture, and someone else might take one element from that picture and draw another picture. Lots of people come together and are constantly building on each other’s work. So the website sort of tracks all that so you can see which stories and which illustrations are really resonating with the community. They pop out. So I will admit, I certainly did not look at all 8,000 contributions to this collaboration.
You do give credit where credit’s due.
Yes. And those people do share in the profits of this book.
So you already have this very lively online world going on. What is it about a bound book that adds to the reading and viewing experience?
Look, I love wandering around the Internet and finding things to look at and entertain me, but there’s absolutely no comparison to holding a well-published book in your hands. Call me old-fashioned, but there’s just nothing like it. I’m really proud of the way that we are publishing this book. It’s a beautiful, tactile, physical artifact, and I think there’s something sort of magical about that. I get the biggest kick out of taking these things that started so digitally — they had to be digital because they came from all over the world and we used the Internet to make it — but then it comes together into this tangible, physical relic, and it feels sooooo … official. [Laughs] Well, this is a real book, you know? I love seeing stuff that I’ve made posted online that people can react to, but man, when it’s printed in a hardcover, clothbound book — the cover is this deep beautiful red and the lines that make up the cover illustration are embossed on there and you can feel it with your fingers — there’s nothing like that to me. It really lends a magnitude to the stories.