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How to make and publish movies for free

David Daw | March 20, 2012
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.

Flickr's archive also hosts some great video clips uploaded by users under a Creative Commons license, but there are better sources for finding free video assets. YouTube is a great place to find some Creative Commons video; just open the "filter" dropdown menu on any YouTube search result page, and select Creative Commons on the lower right to get a list of video clips that are free for public use. Plenty of successful amateur filmmakers have made movies using nothing but clips from YouTube, and you could be one of them.

If you're not finding what you need in the Creative Commons it may be time to start rooting through stuff in the public domain, which includes commercial works that have fallen out of copyright and are now free for public use. It takes quite a while for a commercial copyright to expire (often seventy years after the author's death in the U.S.), so if you're looking for some post-modern indie rock for your soundtrack the public domain won't be of much use. However, there are tons of great movies from the silent era and a lot of classical recordings that can be used in your personal projects.

The Internet Archive has a great selection of old photos, video and audio clips that are available for use in the public domain, but not everything stored in the Archive is free for use. Unfortunately, there's no simple way to filter your Internet Archive search results to only display works available in the public domain.

Here's a simple trick for finding media in the public domain: open the Internet Archive Advanced Search and filter your serach results to only show media published before January 1st 1923; any works published before that date have fallen into the public domain and are free to use.

Get Started With Free Video Editing Software

Once you have enough material to work with, you're going to need some robust video editing software to make your movie. While the technical process of editing video is intricate enough to demand a dedicated article, for the purposes of this guide we can point you to some great free software to help you get the job done. If you need a little help, here are some timeless video editing tips to get you started.

When it comes to free video editing software, almost every Windows user has access to Windows Movie Maker since it comes pre-installed on most Windows PCs. While Windows Movie Maker doesn't offer many flashy features, you should be able to import your video and audio clips and edit them together with ease thanks to Movie Maker's storyboard layout. Getting started is easy: you select the photos and/or videos you'd like to include in your finished product, and Movie Maker automatically arranges them into a storyboard-style layout.

 

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