open video

CC Filmmakers and Festivals Change the Rules

Elliot Harmon, March 19th, 2013

During the Academy Awards a few weeks ago, we were reminded of an interesting piece of Creative Commons history:

In 2007, Donna Dewey’s A Story of Healing became the first Academy Award–winning film to be released under a Creative Commons license. The film follows plastic surgeons from Interplast, an organization that provides free reconstructive surgery to people with injuries and congenital deformities. Interplast (which produced the film and is now known as ReSurge International), recognized that sharing it under a CC license could allow its message to reach more people.

Sita Sings the Blues

Sita Sings the Blues / Nina Paley / CC0

Six years later, filmmakers all around the world are using Creative Commons licenses to bring their films to new audiences. And in the process, many of them are redefining how film production and distribution can work. No, CC-licensed films aren’t sweeping the Oscars, but maybe they’ve become a part of something even more exciting.

For example, take Nina Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues. Most people reading this blog post have probably seen Paley’s amazing film. (If you haven’t, watch it right now. We’ll be here when you get back.) But you might not know that as of 2013, Paley has placed her film in the public domain. Paley explains why she made the unorthodox decision to waive her copyright under the CC0 Public Domain Declaration:

… I still believe in all the reasons for BY-SA, but the reality is I would never, ever sue anyone over SSTB or any cultural work. I will still publicly condemn abuses like enclosure and willful misattribution, but why point a loaded gun at everyone when I’d never fire it? CC0 is an acknowledgement I’ll never go legal on anyone, no matter how abusive and evil they are.

Gottfrid Svartholm

Gottfrid Svartholm (from TPB AFK) / Simon Klose / CC BY

A few weeks ago, Simon Klose released TPB AFK, the long-awaited, Kickstarter-funded documentary about the lives and legal difficulties of the founders of The Pirate Bay. Klose released two versions of the documentary, one licensed BY-NC-ND and one BY-NC-SA. According to Klose, the film includes six minutes of footage from a television network that wouldn’t allow adaptations, so he chose to release a remix-friendly version omitting that footage alongside the NoDerivs version. Both in Klose’s case and in Paley’s, the licenses invite types of reuse and creative participation that can get really problematic under traditional, All Rights Reserved film distribution.

This summer, members of the Nordic CC community are organizing the first Nordic Creative Commons Film Festival. Organizers are inviting anyone in the region to host a screening. Venues will range from full-size theatres to small gatherings in people’s homes. (The organizers are currently looking both for volunteer organizers and for film submissions. Visit their website for more information.)

The Nordic festival is the latest in a growing movement of CC film festivals that began with the Barcelona Creative Commons Film Festival. The BccN launched in 2010 with the slogan “COPY THIS FESTIVAL.” And copy it people did, with “copies” appearing in Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Lima, Helsinki, and beyond.

In a video message to the organizers of the Nordic CC Film Festival, CC cofounder Lawrence Lessig suggests that the film culture of the future will look less like today’s film industry and more like this festival:

Another new direction in filmmaking — which, interestingly, also originated in Spain — is Pablo Maqueda and Haizea Viana’s #littlesecretfilm. Anyone can create a “#littlesecretfilm,” as long as her film follows a list of minimalistic rules (finish shooting in 24 hours, ad-libbed dialogue). It’s hard not to make comparisons to Dogme 95, but #littlesecretfilm’s organizers stress that they’re not trying to build a new movement (interview in Spanish). The project’s manifesto describes it simply as “an act of love for the cinema,” which could also describe the global spread of CC film festivals. And of course, #littlesecretfilms must be licensed under Creative Commons.

Around the world, CC filmmakers and festival organizers are changing the rules of every step in the process of filmmaking, from writing and shooting to editing, distribution, and monetization. At a time when the mainstream film industry is struggling to redefine and modernize itself, the CC community isn’t waiting up.

Attention CC filmmakers: Please add your projects to our Case Studies and post upcoming screenings to our Events page. We’d love to help promote your work!

Update (April 11, 2013): The Nordic Creative Commons Film Festival has just launched a crowdfunding campaign. Make a donation or visit the festival site to find other ways to get involved.

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Four Million CC-Licensed Videos Uploaded to YouTube

Elliot Harmon, July 25th, 2012

Creative Commons just reached an exciting milestone. As of this week, there are four million Creative Commons–licensed videos on YouTube. That’s over forty years’ worth of footage to remix and reuse, all licensed under CC BY, the most permissive CC license.

One thing that makes this mass of CC-licensed content really exciting is that all four million of those videos can be imported into YouTube’s online video editor. By letting people remix and adapt videos without having sophisticated editing software or expertise, YouTube and CC are making it easier for anyone to build on the work of others. And that’s pretty cool.

In her guest blog post on the YouTube blog, CC CEO Cathy Casserly muses on what’s possible when YouTubers share their creativity:

Do you need a professional opening for your San Francisco vacation video? Perhaps some gorgeous footage of the moon for your science project? How about a squirrel eating a walnut to accompany your hot new dubstep track? All of this and more is available to inspire and add to your unique creation. Thanks to CC BY, it’s easy to borrow footage from other people’s videos and insert it into your own, because the license grants you the specific permissions to do so as long as you give credit to the original creator.

You can pass on the creative spirit when you publish your video, by choosing the option to license it under CC BY so that others can reuse and remix your footage with the YouTube Video Editor. This is where the fun really starts. Imagine seeing your footage used by a student in Mumbai, a filmmaker in Mexico City, or a music video director in Detroit. By letting other people play with your videos, you let them into a global sandbox, kicking off a worldwide team of collaborators. We all yearn to create and contribute — now you can join the fun, and open the door to collective imagination.

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Open Video Conference Call for Proposals

Jane Park, May 24th, 2010

The Open Video Conference, “a multi-day summit of thought leaders in business, academia, art, and activism [exploring] the future of online video,” is taking place this fall from October 1-2 in NYC and includes a keynote from Michael Wesch, the cultural anthropologist responsible for the YouTube phenomenon, The Machine is Us/ing Us. Last year, OVC “was host to over 800 guests, including 150 workshop leaders, panelists and speakers. Over 8,000 viewers tuned in from home to watch the live broadcast. The event earned coverage in WIRED, NewTeeVee, BBC News, Filmmaker Magazine, and The New Yorker.”

You can apply to host or be part of a panel, presentation, workshop, or demo session at http://openvideoconference.org/proposals/. The deadline to apply is June 7. For more about OVC, visit http://www.openvideoconference.org/about/.

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Cool open video news from Wikimedia

Mike Linksvayer, September 9th, 2008

The most frequently used audio and video formats on the web are not open (they’re software patent encumbered), which has hindered the development of free and open source media tools. Open audio and video formats face a tough chicken and egg problem: not interesting to publishers if not supported in software, and not interesting to software developers if not much published open format audio and video.

Wikipedia and its media repository, Wikimedia Commons, have long been an important piece in this adoption puzzle. Along with only accepting liberal copyright licensing, they accept only free file formats.

Late July the Wikimedia Blog featured two hopeful items regarding open media formats. Both are still developing and well worth checking out despite this late posting.

First, an announcement that MetaVid lead developer Michael Dale has been hired by the Wikimedia Foundation:

As many of you may know, Wikimedia is working with Kaltura, Inc. to explore collaborative video editing in the Wikimedia projects. I’m very happy to announce that Kaltura has decided to support the further development of a 100% open source video editing solution integrated into MediaWiki. To this end, Kaltura is sponsoring Michael Dale, lead developer of the MetaVid project, to work in the Wikimedia Foundation offices in San Francisco beginning in early August.

Michael will work on adding support for video editing operations and other video-related functionality to MediaWiki, with a rich user interface built entirely on open standards like Ogg Theora. Michael’s work priorities will be coordinated between Kaltura and WMF. I am hoping that we can make incremental improvements to Wikimedia’s video capabilities that will start to become visible to users soon. :-)

This is really excellent news. MetaVid impressed when presented at a CC Salon two years ago.

Second, a post on news that Firefox 3.1 to support open video and audio. This post also has an excellent summary of why open formats matter for free culture. Go read it!

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Raw Footage from NOVA’s “Car of the Future” Open for Sharing and Remix

Jane Park, April 23rd, 2008

In the winter of 2006, NOVA embarked on an “open production” experiment, asking viewers to contribute by reading and commenting on a preview of their show’s script—the (then) in-progress documentary, “Car of the Future.” The show’s producers liked the results, and according to the Wired Blog Network’s Underwire, NOVA decided to return the favor by “[giving] the material back.” 

For the first time ever, PBS and NOVA have released 240 clips of raw footage from the making of the “Car of the Future” documentary online. The videos, which include full-length interviews with world-renowned scientists and engineers (in addition to various footage of the high-tech vehicles themselves), is free for viewing, sharing, and remixing under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial License (CC BY-NC). NOVA encourages you to take this footage and “create your own video or multimedia project about tomorrow’s cars, environmental issues, or other related topics you care about.” They also ask you to send them back your finished product if you want, so that they can feature the best videos on their site.

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