Make a Film

The Jazz Dance Film Fest contest is over, but we encourage dancers, musicians, and filmmakers to keep creating jazz dance films! Here are some resources for prospective filmmakers.

Where to start...

Want to make a video, but not sure how to start? Maybe you have ideas already but don't know how to execute them, or perhaps you are committed to making a video but don't have any specific ideas nailed down yet. Here are some suggestions on how to get started.

Find a song that inspires you. You might find that inspiration strikes while listening to a particular song. Turn on a song and close your eyes... what imagery comes to mind? Is part of a story forming in your mind? Listen to specific instruments. What do they say to you? What do you see, or think, as the song progresses. If a song does not speak to you, move on to other options.

If you plan to share your creation on the internet, you should plan to arrange for rights to use the music in your film. Many bandleaders are happy to let you use their music, under circumstances which protect them legally or financially. Additionally, bands that are trying to make a name for themselves might welcome the exposure. Don’t hesitate to ask, but always ask before using a song in your film.

Watch films from this contest. Check out our collection of films to see what people have submitted to this contest. This can help you generate ideas by seeing what other people brought to the table with their films.

Write out your ideas. Let your imagination run wild, and don't limit your ideas. You can always go back and rework your ideas later to make them more feasible. Think your ideas are too simple? That's okay too! Sometimes simple can be just as good, if not better, than something that's more elaborate. You might find it beneficial to storyboard your ideas to work through the thoughts you have. Keep working on your ideas until you end up with something doable.

Talk with friends. You never know who will be interested in helping or collaborating with you on a video until you ask! You may find that you have friends that would love to make a video but, like you, may have trouble seeing themselves doing it alone. For example, you might find some friends that are shy and feel daunted by the idea of coordinating others to make a music video happen. These friends might make great behind-the-scenes players, like camera operators or editors, while more outgoing friends might love the task of coordinating a small to large group of people for a video.

The point is, don't hesitate to ask. Chances are, there are people who would love to work with you and can fill roles that you yourself might not be most comfortable in. Don't be afraid to start a conversation and see where it goes!

Utilize social networking tools. Today's technology can make coordinating a music video easy! Facebook groups can provide a great centralized location for collaboration and for working out logistics of the music video planning or shooting process. You can use the networking power of Twitter to suggest a video idea to friends from around the world. You can also use YouTube or Skype to teach or learn choreography with people who live in other scenes. With online tools like these, the sky is the limit!


Below is a basic list of free programs for video and audio editing. These programs are fairly easy to pick up, and you can find a wide variety of tutorials on YouTube to help you learn the basics.

Video Editing

Windows Live Movie Maker - Many Windows distributions come with Movie Maker, a simple, easy-to-use tool for editing videos.

Apple: iMovie - Mac computers include a video-editing software called iMovie, which is also very easy to use.

Adobe Premiere Clip - iPhone and iPad users can use Adobe Premiere Clip, a free mobile video editing app that lets you create amazing videos on-the-go. Combine photos and video clips on your device into a single video that you can edit, add music to, and share with others. One tap sends your project to Premiere Pro, so you can do even more.

Audio Editing

Audacity - Audacity is a free audio-editing software and available for Windows, Mac OS X, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems.

File Formats

When saving your video file, we recommend using one of the following file formats:

  • Apple Quicktime
  • AVI
  • mpeg-1, mpeg-2, mpeg-4
  • DivX
  • Windows Media Format

We recommend making films that are at least 640x480 in dimensions.