Free and Legal Movies For Your Film Scoring Projects

Free and Legal Movies For Your Film Scoring Projects

This post was updated 8 January, 2017

Videos for film scoring projects

Film scoring is an exciting way to explore composing, arranging, recording and editing music or sound effects with your students and there are a variety of software programs suitable for the job.  GarageBand, Mixcraft, Sibelius and Finale all allow you to import video and synchronise sound to visuals.

Before you get started with film scoring however, you’ll need some resources.  In this post, we’ll explore some if the film footage (video) that is available for free.

First, a word on copyright

When you’re looking for film clips to use in the classroom, it’s a good idea to seek public domain material or material that has been designated a Creative Commons license.  If you’re not yet familiar with Creative Commons, it’s an organisation that encourages sharing and collaboration of creative work.  Creative Commons (CC), whose byline is “Share, Remix, Reuse – Legally” provides free licenses and other legal tools to mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share, remix or use their work commercially (or any combination thereof).

By using material with a CC license, you’re able to do much more with end-product of your students’ work – such as uploading their film scoring projects online in order to share them with parents, other students and the wider community.  Conversely, using copyrighted material means that you can only use it within the four walls of your classroom.

Personally, I also prefer to encourage good digital citizenship in students.  I’d rather see students use legal resources and credit the owner of the original work instead of using copyrighted material.

For more information about Creative Commons, visit their website.

Finding videos for film scoring

So, where are the best places to download suitable videos?  Over the last few months, I’ve been gathering links to some of the most useful sites.  Here are some of my favourites:

1. The Moving Image Archive

This is the moving images section of a site with thousands of copyright-free films.  Within this site there are “collections” of videos.  Check out the following:

2. The Open Video Project

The Open Video Project site has an excellent search engine: you can narrow your search to films of a specific duration (less than one minute or 1-2 minutes).  You can also search for silent films which are very useful for film scoring projects.

3. Open Source VideosBig Buck Bunny

Big Buck Bunny and The Elephant’s Dream are both open source code movies. All music and video files from these movies are available for others to download, remix or re-score.

4. The Whitehouse website

The Obama administration kindly assigned a Creative Commons license to all material on the Whitehouse website, which means that you’re free to download pictures, video and text and use it for your own purposes as long as you attribute the source of the material.

5. Brick Films

Brick films are stop-motion animation films using Lego blocks and Lego characters. There’s a strong brick film community and some great examples can be seen in this round-up of the Top 10 Lego Movie Tributes on Youtube.

There’s quite a large collection of Creative Commons Licensed brick films on the website and music teacher Sarah Johnston has shortlisted her favourites for use by students in GarageBand film scoring projects in this list.


One last piece of advice!

Well two things actually:

  • It’s best to download any potential videos, ahead of time, on your own.  Not all of the material on these websites is suitable for students
  • Allow yourself a decent amount of time to look for suitable clips.  It can be a big time-suck!

Click here to download

By |2018-09-08T07:11:49+00:00September 30th, 2009|Free and Low-Cost Tech|9 Comments

About the Author:

I love to simplify technology for music teachers. I help teachers from all around the world through the Midnight Music Community - an online professional development community where teachers can take online courses, ask questions and receive personalised help for the music tech goals.


  1. Bill Bartmann October 10, 2009 at 5:13 am - Reply

    Your site was extremely interesting, especially since I was searching for thoughts on this subject last Thursday.

  2. […] Projects Posted on February 7th, 2011 in Creative Commons, Film scoring, Free, Music Tech Tips. In a previous post I listed some useful places to find film footage for film scoring and video editing projects. This […]

  3. Tyler August 23, 2015 at 5:43 am - Reply

    I’m a composer new to the scoring scene. That being said, this site was extremely helpful in finding film I can use to assemble my demo reel.


    • Katie September 9, 2015 at 9:01 am - Reply

      Thanks Tyler – glad you found it useful!

  4. Ben May 21, 2016 at 4:45 pm - Reply

    This is all great, but how do you actually take the music of out the already mixed film and leave the actor’s voices and sound-effects in. It makes it hard scoring anything, if there is no dialogue to float on the score. Then it merely is a movie silent picture with your music. I’m having a hard time finding a method to do this.

    • Katie June 6, 2016 at 12:33 pm - Reply

      Hi Ben,

      There is no good way to do that. One option is to have the students re-create the dialogue and sound effects themselves (that’s a great project just on its own!). Other than that, you can choose a film where there is no dialogue in the first place, or choose something that has dialogue but no existing music soundtrack.

      Since I wrote this blog post, I’ve been suggesting the Wallace and Gromit videos on this page. The BBC made them available for a film scoring competition that they ran a few years ago. They were awesome enough to provide exactly what you’re after – the scene with dialogue, but with the music removed so that students can composer their own. Hopefully you find them helpful.

      • Phil Vo July 23, 2016 at 2:43 pm - Reply

        Yes you can do that by using a few comments in unit as following:

        -x, –extract-audio: Convert video files to audio-only files(requires ffmpeg or avconv and ffprobe or avprobe)

        –audio-format FORMAT: Specify audio format: “best”, “aac”, “vorbis”, “mp3”, “m4a”, “opus”, or “wav”; “best” by default

        –audio-quality QUALITY:Specify ffmpeg/avconv audio quality, insert a value between 0 (better) and 9 (worse) for VBR or a specific bitrate like 128K (default 5)

        –recode-video FORMAT: Encode the video to another format if necessary (currently supported mp4|flv|ogg|webm|mkv|avi)

  5. Itty S. Neuhaus September 12, 2017 at 2:00 am - Reply

    Dear Katie, I am looking for a composer to score “The Story of Icilla, an iceberg who didn’t want to leave her glacier”. I have photographed extensively in the Arctic and have shot clay animations that I am in the process of compositing into the Arctic footage. This work is largely self-funded, but will be part of an art exhibition in NYC opening in Jan 18. I remember hearing of a site where budding film score composers will work for free or reduced rate. Any contacts would be much appreciated. Thank you for the service that you provide!
    Cheer, Itty

    • Katie September 13, 2017 at 10:24 am - Reply

      Hello Itty – sorry but I don’t know of a site like that. You might like to try contacting some of the tertiary institutions in your area that offer film making courses and degrees. There might be a student who is wanting to gain some experience in that area. Good luck with the project!

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