Open Source Filmmaking

The culture of “open source” has evolved beyond software; it’s now a serious trend in filmmaking. The original open source encyclopedia, Wikipedia defines this culture as “where collective decisions or fixations are shared during development and made generally available in the public domain.”

Here are several examples of open source filmmaking projects:

+ Elephants Dream is an animated short film built/produced entirely by open source graphics software like Blender. It’s billed as the “world’s first open movie… with all production files freely available to use however you please, under a Creative Commons license.”

+ The Echo Chamber Project is an open source documentary that critiques the mainstream media’s coverage of the war in Iraq through collaborative techniques. They describe themselves as “an independent filmmaker’s ‘YouTube’ combined with ‘Wikipedia’ for serious journalism.”

+ OpenSourceCinema.org is another collaborative documentary project. This one covers copyright in the digital age.

+ A Swarm of Angels is a new media experiment, utilizing an exclusive community (50,000 participants) which fund (£1 million ($1.8) budget) and help make a film. The participants will freely download, share and remix the feature film. They’ve completed phase two of five. Very interesting to see how this project evolves.


+ The Workbook Project allows content creators to add their own take on the project and the “workbook” can grow as a resource – building it with an open source “client side” wiki called tiddlywiki that can be saved to your desktop, edited and then uploaded again.

+ Stray Cinema is an open source film experiment that combines filmmaking with online information sharing. The creators of this site shot a film and put the raw footage on their website – making it available for contributors to download it and make their own version of the film. The film will be screened in London on Aug. 21, 2007.

+ VEB FILM Leipzig is a netlabel that produces movies, books and songs that are published under the terms of a Creative Commons License. Users can copy and modify the works and are even allowed to be used commercially.

+ Mutable Cinema Project allows people to perform their own personal interpretation of an interactive movie. Their first project, “The Blind Date” is the first narrative content filmed to demonstrate the capabilities of their Mutable Cinema Interactive Engine.

+ The Digital Tipping Point is an open source film project about the impact of open source software to the world. They plan to make other films and share their footage in hopes that users will add their own contributions (animations, music and graphics, etc.) to the Internet Archive’s Digital Tipping Point Video Collection.

Related links:

– Open Source Initiative
– Creative Commons.org