Former child star Gordon-Levitt has become something of a mini-media empire as an adult with his music, film, TV and online efforts. He has previously directed several projects, mostly shorts, but also the 2013 comedy feature film Don Jon, with Scarlett Johansson. That film, with an estimated production budget of $6 million, ultimately grossed $24.4 million in the United States.
Under the Samsng deal, Gordon-Levitt and his production company hitRECord will shoot a globe-trotting short film called In a City, using Samsung’s new compact system camera, the NX1. The film also will incorporate material submitted by members of hitRECord’s collaborative community of filmmakers, musicians and lyricists. The short will be shot over the coming weeks for release in December.
For its part, Samsung has been making a big push in the camera business, long dominated by Canon and Nikon, and in Hollywood (this weekend, the company also is sponsoring a lavish series of promotional events for celebrities and influencers at a Beverly Hills mansion for its newest “phablet,” the Galaxy Note 4). Many indie filmmakers have relied on various iterations of the Canon EOS 5D digital single-lens reflex camera for relatively low-cost and flexible video production. I say relatively because though the camera and one particularly popular lens can still run more than $4,000.
The NX1, which launches Monday, lists for $1,499 for the camera body, though most professional photographers and cinematographers would say the crucial difference-maker for any camera system (in both quality and cost) will be in the range and capabilities of the camera’s lenses. Amazon lists several NX1-compatible lenses at prices between $763 and $1,599.
Compact system cameras are a relatively new product category, using an electronic viewfinder instead of the bulky and expensive mirror systems in SLR cameras that let a user see what image will be captured. Like SLRs, however, compact system cameras still offer the flexibility of interchangeable lenses. More notable is the NX1’s ability to capture images in the Ultra HD and Cinema 4K formats, bringing much higher resolution video capture at much lower prices. The Canon EOS 5D Mark III, for instance, can record only in HD. Most cameras providing UHD or Cinema 4K formats, from companies such as Black Magic and Red, cost at least four times as much, even without lenses.
The project is produced for Samsung by SXM, the digital agency that also produced Samsung’s project with James Franco.