From customized licenses to iStock by Getty Images, filmmakers have options

Independent filmmakers face plenty of challenges illustrating their creative vision and preparing films for festival submission. Not surprisingly, budget is at the top of the list.

Without the financial backing that comes with distribution, pricing out items such as aerial footage and archival content — not to mention deep file research — can seem daunting.

“With documentaries, filmmakers want to find the best, most compelling archival material,” said Amy Schewel, an archival producer and researcher who has been in the industry for more than 20 years. “You don’t want to be thinking about money and licensing fees, even though the budget is always a major concern. You want to be thinking about what will tell a story, and how to make the best film possible.”

It’s something Kevin Gippert understands. During his 15 years at Getty Images, he and a whole team of experts have dedicated themselves to finding ways to help.

“By working to understand the type of project, the story and budget, we can build a customized license for filmmakers, limited to the film festival only,” said Gippert, who, as an account manager, serves mainly independent film producers and television production companies.

“Then, as part of that license, we can give filmmakers the option to upgrade to full theatrical rights within a year,” he said. “This way, they have everything they need if their film gets picked up.”

Once the team has an understanding of the project, they can help filmmakers in a number of ways, Gippert said. For example, if a filmmaker is working on a documentary – whether it’s historical or topical – the team can provide research services and dig through offline archives, making suggestions based on the filmmaker’s needs.

Schewel said this ability to partner has been critical.

“In all of my years of working with filmmakers on doc projects and reaching out to Getty Images as an archival source, the filmmakers and I are always reminded that our contacts there are so much more than just ‘Getty reps,’ ” Schewel said. “They are colleagues and advisors with a passion for archival content and research. So many Getty Images contacts have long years of experience and deep knowledge and contacts in the archival world – and share that expertise with clients.”

After filmmakers select content, experts like Gippert can work out the licensing details and issue the appropriate licenses based on the project.

“Often filmmakers are really working on lean budgets and can’t afford all the available rights when they might not need them upfront,” Gippert said. “We work with them to ensure they can realize their vision and have appropriate licensing in place, without having it become cost prohibitive.”

Another avenue for filmmakers on a budget are roughly a million video clips available on iStock by Getty Images, including HD.

The amount of high-quality video on iStock has grown significantly in recent years, with video footage across a range of topics — such as family, healthcare or timelapse.

“When you look across Getty Images and iStock, there is video footage to meet every need and budget,” Gippert said. “We truly are an end-to-end solution for filmmakers, and we take great pride in that.”

Browse video collections on Getty Images and iStock by Getty Images To speak with someone at Getty Images about your film project needs, email