How to Make Stock Footage

Creating stock footage is not the same as making a short film, commercial, or TV show. It requires an eye for cultural trends and untapped niches, which other filmmakers need for their own work. If you want to compete in today's stock footage market, you'll have to distinguish your clips from the millions that currently exist on the web, whether they're on stock footage sites or in the public domain. Below, we've shared an essential checklist for producing compelling stock footage. 


Need the perfect clip for your video production?
Shutterstock has millions. Explore our collection.


Plan Ahead
As a stock footage creator, the days of shooting impromptu videos without a gameplan are essentially over. Quality stock clips with actors, unpredictable locations, and complex choreography require a lot of pre-production. This is especially true if you're working with a team, so make sure to create call sheets with all relevant info about locations, phone numbers, and wardrobe needs, as well as a full shooting schedule. This will help to ensure that your production team is on the same page.

Likewise, you should visit all locations beforehand, take photos, and create storyboards to block out your scene. This way, you'll avoid confusion between the director, cinematographer, actors, and crew. The more you've planned in advance, the less time you'll waste trying to set up the shot. Creative prep is essential, no matter how DIY your operation is. Still, that doesn't mean you should be uptight on set. Once you've planned out the production, you can loosen up and allow your crew to experiment in the moment. 

Consider the Legal Implications
Pre-production is not just about the film shoot, however. When coming up with a plan, you should always think about the legal consequences. As a stock footage creator, there are ways to minimize your exposure to legal action, whether it be from an individual, company, or property owner. For example, it's always better to film a group of relatively anonymous people, instead of singling out a person in public. This doesn't matter if you've hired an actor or obtained explicit permission beforehand, though, so just make sure to cover your bases.  

Seek Out Accessible Subjects and Locations
Every stock footage creator has an opportunity to take advantage of their unique circumstances, whether they live in a photogenic city, know some talented actors, or have access to some unconventional locations. Using these opportunities in your work can help you to create a profitable niche. For example, if you live in Hawaii and have some waterproof film equipment, it wouldn't be difficult to produce a series of surfing clips and underwater scenes. What can you offer that other filmmakers can't? 

Quality Matters
Besides having an original subject or perspective, it's important to create high-quality content. In today's stock footage landscape, 4K video is quickly becoming the new standard, so you'll need to meet that level of quality to stay competitive. Luckily, even the latest smartphones can shoot 4K, so you don't need to spend an exorbitant sum to shoot high-resolution footage.  

Produce Footage on a Smart Timeline
It's a total cliche, but time is money, and this is definitely true when shooting stock clips. The longer it takes to execute a particular idea, the less profitable it will be. Remember, you're trying to create as much high-quality content as possible. Typically, it's not worth it to shoot time-lapse footage for this exact reason. When it takes hours (or even days) to get one shot, you could have used that time to film a dozen scenes, which is 11 more potential sources of revenue.   

  • Was this article helpful?

Can’t find what you’re looking for?