Selling Stock Footage is Not Dead! | Residual Income from Filmmaking

Published on December 24, 2020

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So over the past five years of freelancing, I’ve gotten to shoot hundreds of projects equating to probably thousands of video clips. All of this footage has been stock piled into dozens of hard drives, and I finally had to do something with it.

One of the pros of owning a production company and being self-employed is that you own most of the footage that you shoot. And what does this mean? It means that you can license it! As I started to shoot more videos, I’ve gotten inquiries from companies who had seen my videos or my reel and asked to license some of my footage for one of their commercials. For example, I directed and shot this music video for an artist named BIEN and was later asked by tis watch company called Rado to license a five-second clip from the music video. So the music video was mainly a passion project that I submitted to a film festival and ended up wining two awards for. I put my own time and money into the project but wasn’t paid for it. With licensing that one 5-second clip I was paid a whopping $225 which I was super stoked about. Ever since then I’ve tried to keep stock footage as a focus point whenever I shoot music videos for artists or promos for other brands. I make sure that the content I shoot can potentially be used in other commercials that maybe a watch company or sports brand can use. On thing to keep in mind is you gotta make sure to always keep a copy of all the footage and maintain ownership of the projects. There are lots of businesses and companies out there that are always in need of stock footage because they don’t want to hire out a full production company to shoot that content for them. Rather just go to a website like Filmsupply and license a few clips from them. And how do people find out about all that beautiful footage that you’ve carefully crafted? Post your work! Post the music video or content that you shoot on social media, Vimeo or Youtube and just let people know in the captions that the clips from the project are available for licensing. Also keep in mind that most companies won’t even consider licensing your footage unless it’s shot in 4k minimum. 4k is just the standard that we work with right now, so if you’re camera doesn’t shoot 4k maybe wait til you’re able to upgrade to a camera that does shoot 4k. BUT who am I to tell you what works and what doesn’t. If you’re 480p clips of a monkey eating spaghetti sells on a stock website that more power to you. You have earned my respect and support. Another tip to selling stock footage is that there are actually a lot of stock websites out there that can hold and manage your footage, and get a cut of every clip that they sell for you. For example, I currently have my projects up on Filmsupply and they help me out with taking care of hosting, keyboarding, and color grading some of my footage, and in exchange they take a fair cut of my commissions. So from my stock footage sales, I’d say that I make about $200-300/month split between selling my own footage and having my clips on Filmsupply. Licensing my footage doesn’t make up for my entire income being a freelancer but it helps me take care of some of my bills every month which is super nice! Shooting stock is a good way of thinking ahead about future projects, because you can plan on making some passive income from the things you shoot. Selling stock is an AMAZING way to make extra income as a filmmaker. For most filmmakers, they upload like 50 or 100 clips, wait a month or two, and then give up cuz they didn’t make any money. But you have to keep going. You gotta keep growing your stock portfolio. You gotta keep keyboarding right (super important). And you gotta keep shooting.

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