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Thomas Friedman on DIY Filmmaking with Online Resources

by J. Robert Burgoyne — last modified Dec 13, 2009 10:20 AM
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Mr. Friedman's Dec. 13, 2009 New York Times article includes references to numerous vendors whose services assist the DIY filmmaker / videographer with a tight budget. The vendor list is replicated and augmented in our article.


We were instructed years ago that one of our most important tasks as business owners was to develop and nurture a competent set of vendors. 

Thomas Friedman's article generously shares a list of the vendors his friend, Ken Greer of Greer & Associates in Minneapolis, Minnesota, recently used while producing a video. Since we're also a small business producing our own videos, it seems worthwhile to take a deeper look at the vendor list and offer our own suggestions as well. 


Service or Product Vendor Name
and Website
Online File Sharing When working with team members in different locations, it's necessary to have a service that permits everyone on the team to have simultaneous access to all the files required to complete a project. That way you're not emailing documents back and forth and accumulating multiple versions of the same file. appears to fill this role quite well. We use Google Documents from time to time for similar reasons, but Google Docs is primarily used to share documents and spreadsheets - not all types of files such as .JPGs or .MP3 files.

Of course for security, capacity, speed or other reasons you may need or want your own managed, in-house server. This is a service True Blade offers. 

Stock / Royalty Free Photos iStockphoto There are many vendors who offer "stock" or "royalty-free" photos, where for a fee, you purchase the rights to use their photos in your creative work. Mr. Greer apparently had good results with iStockphoto so I'll pass the referral along here.

Doing a Google search for "stock photos" or "royalty-free photos" will bring up a listing of dozens of competing vendors. 

Voice Over Talent This is an interesting service that connects voice talents with people who want and need to pay for the voice talent. Mr. Greer notes that using substantially reduced his overall costs. 

I'll note that when dealing with people, it's best to have an organized system for keeping track of said people. True Blade recently hired someone and to manage the application process for the 80+ applications received, we used an in-house developed series of web forms connected to to directly post the applicants' data to our database. By using our own database, we now have saved all the applicants' data in our own database for future use. See more about our experiences with below. 

Stock / Royalty Free Music AudioJungle Similar to the need for royalty-free photos, you will also need "stock" or "royalty-free" music at some point. is one such vendor. Again, Mr. Greer notes the cost reduction from using AudioJungle. 

We've used a variety of vendors for royalty-free music but recently settled on Digital Juice, primarily because of the high quality of their products and their holistic approach to filmmaking. What we especially like about Digital Juice is that they have tried to offer nearly every product a filmmaker needs, including royalty-free music, photos, and special effects. They also offer free software that lets you manage all of their "assets". 

If you still want to find more royalty-free music vendors, a Google search for "royalty-free music" will bring up dozens of choices. 

People Management True Blade recommends:
Perhaps for reasons of space Mr. Friedman neglected to mention how Mr. Greer keeps track of all the disparate people working on his film project.

But the more you depend on people and resources in remote locations to work collaboratively on a project, the more you need an online database to keep track of everyone and to log and report upon their activities, tasks, goals, and deadlines. We use to accomplish this role. I've also seen people make good use of Google Spreadsheets for the same purpose, but once you want to start connecting tasks to people, you need a relational database - not a spreadsheet. 


We tip our hat to Mr. Friedman and Mr. Greer - thanks for inspiring us to write about our own filmmaking experiences.

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