Joseph Gordon-Levitt Asks Public to Submit Videos for Project on Tech and Democracy

Gordon-Levitt to Donate Acting Fee From Snowden Movie to ACLU and hitRECord Project

February 4, 2016 11:45 am

Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

LOS ANGELES — Actor and filmmaker Joseph Gordon-Levitt launched a new community-sourced video project today with his production company hitRECord and the American Civil Liberties Union, putting out a call for people to submit videos with their takes on the connections between technology and democracy. The submissions will be used for a series of collaborative short films about the subject.

Gordon-Levitt, who stars in the upcoming Oliver Stone film “Snowden” as the NSA whistleblower, said that he is donating his entire acting fee from the movie to help facilitate the conversation about technology and democracy. Part of the fee will compensate those individuals whose contributions wind up being used in the finished hitRECord production. The remainder will be given to the ACLU to support the organization’s work on free speech and digital privacy rights.

In a video posted online today, Gordon-Levitt asks viewers to answer three questions:

  • Is today’s technology good or bad for democracy?
  • How might the technology of the future be bad for democracy?
  • How might the technology of the future be good for democracy?

“One thing you could talk about is what new technology means for privacy,” Gordon-Levitt says in the video. “Some people believe that the right to privacy is a cornerstone of democracy, and without privacy, we don’t really live in a free country. Other people, and especially perhaps people who are so open about their lives online anyway, don’t seem to mind being watched. So I’m curious how you feel about it.”

Other topics people could talk about include freedom of expression, news, education, and anything else that they can think of, he said.

“There’s no right answer to these questions. In fact, the answers I’m most interested in are not the expert, political pundit, left-wing, right-wing, talking points kind of thing. I’d much rather hear a personal story or something that’s unique to you.”

Gordon-Levitt and hitRECord will use the answers sent in to make a short documentary-style film exploring a wide range of perspectives on democracy in the digital age, as well as several other short films that will take a variety of forms, such as animated music videos or dramatizations of people’s experiences, depending on the contributions received.

The films will be produced using hitRECord’s signature collaborative process, which employs animators, musicians, writers, video editors, and other artists to work on the films through the hitRECord website and app.

The films will be completed in time for the theatrical debut of “Snowden,” which is set for release in May.

“I’ve grown to care a lot about these questions since playing Edward Snowden,” Gordon-Levitt said. “I think it’s a really worthwhile conversation for us all to be having, so I’m going to be donating my acting fee from the Snowden movie to help facilitate that conversation. Some of that money will go towards this project, to pay the contributors, and the rest will be going to the ACLU to support the work they do in the areas of technology and democracy.”

Today’s video is at:

Videos from the public can be submitted and are shown at:


Privacy statement. This embed will serve content from

By completing this form, I agree to receive occasional emails per the terms of the ACLU’s privacy policy.

The Latest in Privacy & Technology

ACLU's Vision

The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.

Learn More About Privacy & Technology

Privacy and Technology issue image

The ACLU works to expand the right to privacy, increase the control individuals have over their personal information, and ensure civil liberties are enhanced rather than compromised by technological innovation.