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Movie stills/photos

How to get them?

9:19 am on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I'm currently developing a movie news website, however, I'm wondering where and how I can legally obtain movie stills and celebrity photos.

I don't want to just search Google and copy images, as I think that would be illegal.

Is there a place where such images can be purchased? Or do I need to just write to a site like www.imdb.com and ask permission?

While we're on the subject, how do you suppose the owners of www.allmoviephotos.com legally obtain their images?


11:39 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I'm currently developing a movie news website, however, I'm wondering where and how I can legally obtain movie stills and celebrity photos.

1. Find the company responsible for making the film(s). Locate their Press/Media Relations Office and ask (on the phone). Get yourself added to their press mailing lists for new releases, films in production, etc. Be nice to them, but above all, get in and get out - quickly. These are busy people...(well, most of the time they like to think that they are ;-))

2. As an alternative; phone your favourite movie mag - or even your local newspaper if they carry reviews and stills. Speak to the Reviews Editor - ask that persons advice. Who supplies the stuff to them?

3. Investigate, closely, the websites of all the film studios. Your task: to seek the link to the Press Office. Hint: 9 times out of 10 it will not be on their 'consumer' sites. Try their corporate site instead. Many organisations appear to deliberately hide the links to their Press/Media Office - they don't want the general public emailing or phoning them all day long...

4. Most companies use PR Agencies - Studio's included. Find these too. Email them and, in a straightforward, no-nonsense fashion, ask that they add you to their PR/Media mailing lists.

Eventually you will have a constant stream of advance Press Releases - and accompanying movie stills - pouring in.

As an aside; on the wall in front of me - above my computer - are three framed b/w movie publicity shots from the 1950's - issued by the studios at the time. The three actors featured are (Sir) Michael Hordern, Jack "Dixon of Dock Green" Warner, and Broderick Crawford. :-)


11:57 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Would grabbing the frames yourself from your own copies of the movies on DVD fall under the "fair use" banner?

I have done it for my own site, but the aim of my site is not really to make money.


1:03 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Thank you Syzygy for the advice! Apparently you know your stuff.

I was afraid it would be that complicated, but that's all right. I don't expect my site to be a huge success overnight. It'll probably be years before I'm really satisfied with my content and number of visitors. Good sites take a long time to develop.

I'll be sure to try everything you said.

Thanks again.

5:54 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

There is fair use for things like commentary, criticism, paraody, etc... Movie reviews falls in here.

That doesn't mean you can't be sued for it. That just means if you are sued, you have a fair use defense. But you still have to either settle or goto court and defend your fair use.

Interesting, this thread just came up on Google in a completely unrelated search:


11:55 am on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I was afraid it would be that complicated, but that's all right.

It's not complicated at all - it just seems like it at the moment. What is involved here is lots of initial groundwork. It's worth the effort. Make sure you build a database of contacts/addresses, too. (I use old fashioned record/index cards ;-))

Once Studio Press/Media departments and PR agencies have you on their mailing list for one project (film) you will invariably be added to the list for everything else that's new. (Also, Distributors - they're definitely worth contacting as they need maximum exposure for every project they handle - their company depends on it!)

In the end a greater percentage of the information comes to you - all you have to do is open your post & check your emails.

An added bonus is that after a while, dealing with the PR/Media execs (an occasionally awkward bunch of people in my book!) becomes second nature and getting exactly what you need from them is easy ;-)


12:33 pm on Aug 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Syzygy is right on the money. Listen to that advice.

I used to work for an independent VHS/DVD distributor, and we published a monthly review magazine of all the movies that were coming out on home video. I personally had access to press-only areas of the websites of all the major movie studios. I could download high-res and low-res movie stills by the score, poster artwork, title treatments, full package artwork, you name it. (I actually still have access to some of these sites that never closed my account after the distributor went bust). They would also mail us press kits which would have all the production information on the film as well as 8x10 glossies, slides, or CDROMs with movie stills.

They also had us on their list for advance screenings. On a regular basis, advanced screening passes and press-invitations would regularly arrive in the company mailbox.

It's a great perk of the business - seeing movies for free a week before the public gets to. And it really wasn't that hard to get access - of course, since we were already in the movie business as a distributor, we had a little bit of a head start.


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