It's never been cheaper or easier to make movies, but many budding amateur filmmakers are still put off by the initial expense of purchasing a good camera and audio equipment. Thankfully, there's plenty of free content available for public use if you know where to look. You can turn that raw material into creative and inventive works of cinema with a few free video editing tools, some hard work and a place to share your movie with friends and family.
Before we jump into where you can find grist for the movie-making mill, let's lay out what sort of gear you'll need to start making your own movies. You may own a PC or smartphone with basic audio and video recording capabilities, but all you really need is a computer with Internet access.
Find Free Audio And Video
You can download plenty of free multimedia content online, including audio clips for your soundtrack and full-length videos you can cut and edit as you please. The lion's share of this free content is going to come from one of two sources: the public domain or the Creative Commons. The Creative Commons website actually has an excellent search tool that lets you find works with Creative Commons licenses across a variety of different websites, including YouTube, and the Wikimedia Commons. The Creative Commons licenses allow creators to release their works for public use without giving up the other protections provided by copyright (for example, work with certain Creative Commons licenses can't be republished for profit) and as of this writing over 400 million works have been licensed under Creative Commons, so you have plenty of material to sort through.
If you want to be more specific you can also check out dedicated free media websites like the Free Music Archive, which hosts a ton of music licensed under Creative Commons. If you need shorter audio clips (explosions, screams or other sound effects) check out Freesound, an online database of sound effects created by users and freely available for use under the Creative Commons license.
If you're more of a history buff you might consider grabbing some classic images and video clips for your project. Plenty of popular websites license their images for use under Creative Commons (including Wikipedia and Wired), and chances are you're already familiar with one of the best sources for free high-quality images: Flickr.
To find the pictures you need, just start a new search on Flickr and select "Advanced Search" next to the search bar. Scroll down Flickr's Advanced Search page to find the Creative Commons search option, which allows you to filter your Flickr search to find images you can legally use in your movies. Simply check the "Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content" box, and be sure that your movie only employs images that are licensed for you to modify, adapt, or build upon for commercial and non-commercial purposes.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.