Sharing is caring

one of the biggest things in filmmaking is the legal minefield that is “content”. it’s a real hassle because if content were more easily-accessible, a lot of really great films would get made for quite small amounts of money; on the other hand, people working full-time on a project or art form need to get paid so that they can support themselves - otherwise, those art forms become the preserve of people who are already wealthy. here are a couple of examples of things that anyone can take which will help to foster a sharing, but sustainable, environment. it would be great to hear about things other people are doing too:

i can’t give away everything i make (sometimes because of contractual arrangements, and sometimes just because i’ve got to pay the bills!) but there’s a lot that i can. it’s really cool seeing it used elsewhere, re-worked or used for a purpose i wouldn’t have thought of. there are two main ways i share work:

1) making it available online under a creative commons license. i do this with all of my photography. there are lots of sites that let you make your work available - some, like flickr (which i use) let you specify the license as creative commons. for others, you can simply allow people to download the work, and make it clear that the license is (CC).

2) pro-actively offering material. i regularly work with musicians, and i make sure that everyone i work with knows that if they ever need footage, they should ask. i’ve provided many musicians with hours of super8 footage, animation, that sort of thing, and seen it used in music videos (occasionally) and projections for live events (more frequently). i always offer it with no strings attached, but people often offer music for use in a project or something like that in return.

that brings me to the next part: things i use from others. there are, of course, many, but here’s a really important example: sound and music. film relies on sound massively, to more of an extent than most filmmakers recognise. for most projects i take on, i work with a musician, sound recordist or both, but there are always extra things i need (sometimes because of budget, sometimes because of unforeseen circumstances). i’ve had projects saved because musicians donated a track to a film, which is a pretty generous and amazing thing to do.

a resource i use frequently is freesound. it was created by a university in barcelona, and it is amazing - a huge repository of sounds that you can use under a creative commons (or similar) license. there are a lot of sources for things like synth music on the web, but freesound’s somewhere you can find a recording of inside grand central station new york during rush hour, or a whole pack of sounds of typewriter keys, or a running tap, or anything else you can think of. they’re generally uploaded by serious audiophiles, so the quality is often very good.

the important thing to remember with sharing (both giving and receiving) is that you’re part of an ecology: it depends on people putting in something that’s proximate to what they take out. so if you find freesound useful, for example, it’s important to think about what you can do in return - not necessarily to the person whose work you used, but to the system as a whole. maybe you do illustrations, and could make them freely available? or maybe you search freesound, can’t find what you need and have to record it - why not upload it for everyone to use in future?

it’s also important to give credit where it’s due - so i always include the source of sounds on the credits of my films, and generally try to tell people about resources like freesound to increase their profile and use.

speaking of sharing - post any good platforms for content sharing that you know of, or other more hands-on ways to exchange material, and i’ll try and find more too

Making it easy to show love

Hi Edwin,

I, like Noemi, am big on film. And the best films get shown at the festivals…and then  sort of disappear are the ones I want the most. I would be more than happy to pay for indie content. But it´s so hard to access, and a hassle; Every time I have a little time to myself and would like to watch something it´s a hassle getting a hold of it. Then and there. Which considering we are dealing with immaterial goods is really hared to understand. I can´t just pay per view, no streaming solutions seem to work where I am and in the end you just give up and do something else. I had the time,the money and the will to pay for the content and yet I couldn´t.

Why no good pay per view solutions are available all over Europe for indie feature length content is hard to understand- do you know of any I may have missed? I get the sense that a lot of the film crowd in Europe still live in the Broadcasting/ major distribution narrative. But perhaps I am way off the mark…?

Freesound is amazing!

Thanks for this, it is really a wonderful resource I was not aware of.

I license all my content on creative commons too. See here: Also, Edgeryders itself licenses its user-generated content under CC.

Of course I agree with you. The bottom line is this: it seems that in the present content ecologuy, as you say, is ok to charge for WORK, but not for ACCESS. Unfortunately this is a major disruption for the film/music/newspaper industry’s business model.


hey alberto,

sorry to reply so late - i’d meant to awhile ago. the dynamic of charging for work vs. charging for access is an interesting one, and what’s weirder still is the way we’re always fluctuating between the two, because no-one really knows what’s happening.

-a lot of art is considered a public good (you’ll be much more verswed in this than me!) so an artist is paid by the state, and access is unrestricted

-most commercial distribution, on the other hand, relies on charging for access

freesound (and much open-source/CC projects) are interesting though, because often neither work nor access are being charged for. whilst for certain things this is perfectly sustainable, it isn’t always. one really interesting trend i’ve seen lately is an attempt to charge for certain levels of access - it’s really hard to decide if this is a good thing or not, and i suspect the answer is probably contextual.

to give an example: lightworks (which i’ve mentioned elsewhere) are currently releasing all of their code as open-source, but charging for some of the higher-end codecs that you only need for certain kinds of commercial production. this means everyone will be able to do most things for free (even if it’s paid work they’re using it for), whilst serious commercial operators will be forced to pay a low fee. this cuts across the normal CC regulation where people often grant ‘non-commercial’ licenses, which are really great, but have the unfortunate side-effect of placing small producers (lone filmmakers, musicians with no record deal, etc.) in the same box as major distributors. it’d be interesting to see where this kind of model ends up…

hey alberto

that’s awesome - i’m really glad.

your website’s cool by the way - i really liked the posts about the italian c-charge and makers’ economics. i make films but i’m a nerd at heart - interesting social science papers always get my vote