Music for your film is a super important piece of the filmmaking puzzle. For a no budget film, the task is going to be considerably much greater.
Think about it. Having a terrible, amateur sounding soundtrack to your film is going to be death for your no budget film. People won’t take your film seriously. Remember your goal as a no budget filmmaker is to get the quality of your film as close to a larger production as possible. Fail at this in anyway, and your film will be automatically dismissed as ‘feeling low budget’.
But what can you do? What if you don’t have the money to hire John Williams and the London Symphony orchestra?
Do you know a musician who just needs their big break? Awesome. That was easy.
If, like me, you don’t know a young Hans Zimmer you could always advertise for someone to take on the project through social media.
Finding someone who is hungry and ready to give all they can to be successful would be a dream outcome. You get an awesome score, they get recognition. As long as they’re happy for no payment, low payment or a contra deal, then it’s a win-win.
Public domain refers to music which can be used freely without restrictions even for commercial purposes.
For Travel Warning, we set out to make the ultimate (and ambitious) no budget film. We wanted a score that was epic and cost effective. Sounds ridiculous, I know. But one day, I stumbled across exactly what I was looking for, Musopen.
Musopen is a free website which has classical music recording of all the greatest composers, including Beethoven, Bach, Wagner and hundreds more.
Quickly I soon realised this was how I would score Travel Warning. Yes, using the greatest composers of all time to score our little no budget film. At least no one will say the music was amateur.
The hardest part about using Musopen was the enormous and growing library. How could I possibly go through it all? As a filmmaker, you just have to.
As you listen to piece after piece, you can tell almost instantly if it was right fit for either the film or a scene. You can’t skip any either. What if you passed over the ultimate song for your movie? You’d be pretty annoyed.
On a document, I saved all the links and song titles in order of what I believed would be a good fit for a scene or by track tempo.
Do the research. Spend the time. The last thing you want to do is to one day listen to the most perfect piece of music, only to realise you skipped over it because you couldn’t be bothered.
This way I can easily refer to the document by having the music prepared, I’ll have the ability to film and edit with the music already in mind.
I would definitely recommend signing up as a member for only $55 per year, so you can download HD files for your film.
There are other public domain sites specialising in free music, but I don’t believe there is enough content in a particular style for a feature film.
The other alternative is paid, public domain tracks. But this depends on the budget for your no budget film to know if it’s viable for you.