Student Resources

As a young filmmaker, youʼll find everything you need here from filmmaking tips and FAQs through to equipment hire options.

Thereʼs even info on where to find copyright free music you can use in your films, as well as film festivals and opportunities which you can enter!

And if you want to sharpen your filmmaking skills, why not come on a YFA filmmaking course?

Filmmaking tips

1. Start Young

Steven Spielberg made his first film aged 12. Get the jump on your rivals by having a showreel of 4-5 films by the time youʼre 18. Start now!

2. Just DO it

Thereʼs no better way to learn filmmaking than getting out there and DOING it. And you donʼt need expensive equipment. A handycam, or even a mobile phone, plus free editing software available on Mac and PC computers – thatʼs all you need to get started.

3. The Script the Script the Script

You canʼt make a good film out of a bad story – itʼs impossible. The most important part of any story is for your characters to have clear goals – specific things they want or need to achieve. And the stakes must be high. They must achieve their goal or else something terrible will happen…

4. Acting Up

There is no need to hire actors – use your friends and family. Loads of your friends will want to be in your movie. Just ask.

5. Cutting it

The fun and excitement of filming is over and you have your raw footage (called Rushes). Now itʼs time for editing. This is where a lot of young people get stuck or give up. But stick with it and be patient – itʼll all be worth it in the end.

All you need is a basic domestic editing package like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker, already built-in to most computers, or easily downloadable. Use YouTube tutorials on these softwares to get you started. Youʼll quickly get the hang of it.

6. Sounding off

Give your films a professional gloss by adding music and sound effects. If you want to enter your film for festivals it will be important to use copyright-free music. There are loads of sites offering this for free. Just type ʻcopyright-free musicʼ into your search engine.

7. Distribution

Upload your film to Youtube or Vimeo. The opportunities these platforms present are enormous. Theyʼre global, and free. If your film courses a stir on Youtube, producers may be banging on your door soon: Fede Alvarez and his short film Panic Attack became a internet sensation and was reportedly made for less than £400.

8. The Social Network, Network

Use social networking sites to spread the word about your film. Think of a new way to approach people. The young filmmakers behind are raising money for their film and getting lots of celebrity backers by selling end-credits in their film for £1.

9. University Challenge

Think twice before opting for a media studies course at university. It may be right for you, but the majority of people working in the film industry now didnʼt take a degree specifically in filmmaking or media. Consider carefully.

10. Learn from the Pros

There are loads of great websites full of information to help young people break into filmmaking. You donʼt have to wait until youʼre university age either – get started now. Young Film Academy specialise in helping 8-18 year olds make films. Linked directly to the film industry, we run handson filmmaking courses every Easter, Summer and Autumn in London and Italy.


Do I need a professional camera?

What was the Blair Witch Project shot on? What was 28 Days Later shot on? The best quality HD film cameras? No, Home Video Cameras! Thats all you need if you donʼt own one, you are sure to know someone who does. OK so the sound may not be great but you could always start by making silent film. Old fashioned… a little, but as your learning it’s the best. It challenges you to tell a story without words. Once you have mastered that you might want to invest in a microphone for sound recording.

What software should I edit my film with?

All you need is a basic domestic editing package like iMovie or Windows Movie Maker, almost all home computers have it as standard. If you don’t have it you may know someone who does. Ask around, your school is bound to have it.

How do I write a good story?

First off you characters needs a goal. Somebody has to want to get or achieve something in your story. When scripts are boring itʼs because no one wants anything. You need obstacles. Through obstacles we generate CONFLICT. Someone is trying to achieve something and someone or something wants to stop them. Think, why do cops and robbers films work so well? So every story is really about a character trying to reach a goal. But they have to overcome obstacles in their way.

How do I create characters?

Start by establishing a clear goal – someone wants something. What are the obstacles – who wants to stop them – and how do they overcome them – if at all. Who are their characters and how do they change.

Where can I find actors?

There is no need to try and hire actors, all you need is friends and family, even pets can play a part. Be creative.

How can I get my film seen?

There are loads of film competitions and film festivals geared to young people. (See festivals and competitions page) so why not enter some!
You can also upload your film to Youtube or Vimeo where you can reach a global audience. N.B. Make sure you talk to your parents first before entering competitions and uploading to the internet.

Copyright Free Music

If youʼre planning to enter your film for festivals or competitions, or screen it publicly (including YouTube etc), then you will either need to pay for music rights (a nightmare, donʼt do it!) or you need to use Copyright Free Music.


Copyright Free Music is music that you donʼt need any permissions or clearance to use and it makes life a great deal easier. Gaining music clearances is one of the banes of any filmmakerʼs life!


Here are some links to music you can use for free (as long as your film isnʼt being made for money-making purposes!):


Royalty Free Music Links
Artisound is a royalty free music company set up by Yannick Ireland, a graduate of ACM in Guildford with a first class music production degree. Artisound has a free service to help the customer / users source the right music for film projects.
Please get in touch for discount code.

Set up by the artists MOBI, you can listen to a selection of his available music and download whatever you want to use in your film or video or short. The music is free as long as it’s being used in a non-commercial or non-profit film, video, or short.

At this website Kevin MacLeod offers his royalty free music creations under the Creative Commons License. There are many different types of instrumental music at this site.

pacdv offers a few instrumentals for you to use royalty free. They just ask that you mention “Music by” in your credits.

Offers a few songs that you can use in your productions as long as you credit the songwriter – Peter John Ross.

Taylor Hayward offers a few piano songs that are copyright free so you are free to use them in any way, commercial or non-commercial.

Musopen is an online music library of copyright free (public domain) music. At Musopen they obtain recordings of public domain music that have no copyrights so that visitors maylisten, re-use, or in any way enjoy music. Most of the music is of classical piano or symphony pieces.

We recommend that you sign up with a free account at to take full advantage of its many different music artists and genres. To find royalty free music at no charge under the Creative Commons License click on the soundclick link above and then change License Type to Creative Commons (Free), select the Genre and click go.

Derek Audette offers his royalty free music under the Creative Commons License. Most of these are instrumental pieces that are either dark, moody, or hard driving.

This site contains recordings of songs that were published prior to 1922 and are now in the public domain which means the public is free to copy and use the works in any way.

This website offers a collection of music from a variety of artists and genres under the Creative Commons License. In the left hand menu click on artists or genres.

Open Music Archive offers recordings of songs that are over 50 years old so their copyright has expired in the UK so the recordings have become Public Domain. However, if you are from another country other than the UK then the recordings may not be Public Domain yet. See the FAQ for more information.

This Audio Archive contains free recordings of many popular bands. These are usually recordings of live performances. The bands that allow their live concerts to be recorded and traded are known as Trade Friendly Bands. For a list of bands that are Trade Friendly and to view their policies see Trade-Friendly Band Information and Band List. The FAQ page and the details page make it clear that these recordings can only be used for non-commercial purposes.


Free Music Clips usually sells royalty free audio tracks for a price but they also offer a few instrumental 30 second samples that you can use for free for anything you want.


For more films, take a look at our Screening Room

Free Sound Effects

A great source for all different types of sound effects, all free however credit is needed where due!


This area will be updated with opportunities for young filmmakers.

Equipment Hire

We strongly advise all Young Film Academy filmmakers to use their own camera, sound and editing equipment – or borrow from friends, school etc.

As soon as you start hiring professionally, hire companies need you to have professional insurance for the full value of the equipment you are hiring before they will hire to you.

We offer our equipment for rental via Fat Lama. You’ll still need insurance via an insurance broker to cover any damage to the equipment.

You can see our list of available equipment here:


Here is a list of film festivals specialising in young filmmakers where you can enter your films, or go along to meet other young filmmakers. (Email us if you hear of any others!)

The BFI have also put up this useful list of national and international festivals for young filmmakers.




Work Experience

Film/admin work experience internships are periodically available at YFA/Magma Group, which includes our sister film production company Magma Pictures. We also welcome applications from Erasmus Programme students from Europe looking for a 3 month internship in London for film or video production.

If you are interested in applying for a work experience position, please EMAIL your CV with a covering letter to

NOTE: Applicants must be aged 16 years or above.

Useful Links

Here are some links to organisations or initiatives we think might be useful to young filmmakers:



BBC film network


Encounters short film festival


Skill set


Film Street


Film Education


Film Club




And here are some fantastic short films made for our BFI Academy alumni, with top industry names sharing advice and talking about how they got started:

BFI Film Academy: How do I become a screenwriter?
(featuring Abi Morgan, Hossein Amini, Olivia Hetreed, James Graham, Bola Agbaje)

BFI Film Academy: How do I become a documentary filmmaker?
(featuring Ken Loach, John Akomfrah, Kim Longinotto, Lucy Walker, Louise Osmond, Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard)

BFI Film Academy: How do I become a cinematographer?
(featuring Barry Ackroyd, Erik Wilson, Sue Gibson, Nina Kellgren, Tat Radcliffe)

BFI Film Academy: How do I become an animator?
(featuring Peter Lord, Joanna Quinn, Marcus Armitage, Lizzy Hobbs, Phoebe Boswell)

BFI Film Academy: How can I find work in VFX and SFX?
(featuring Neil Corbould)

BFI Film Academy: How do I become a film programmer?
(featuring Clare Stewart, Michael Blyth, Jemma Desai, Andrew Simpson, Ian Rattray, Philip Ilson)