FILMMAKERS: What you need to know about an NDA AND CREATIVE COMMONS-ING

Today my fellow microbudget filmmakers, it's time to learn everything you need to know about a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). It's quick, easy, and exactly what you need right now when you need or want to share information with someone, and you don't want that someone to blurt out the information to someone else. 

This is different from entering into a written agreement for your film/video work. You can dig into that beast on contracts here.

And don't panic - if you want/need an NDA to use in your film and video journey, stay tuned for the bonus upgrade at the end.

If A = you (the filmmaker slash video producer), and B = the person you want to share with, and C = a third party, then you want this relationship:

A~B and ¬(B~C)

Couldn't help the math reference.

Afterwards, we'll dive into a little Bold Mail and talk about CC0, Sharealike, and other Creative Commons goodness for music in your videos & short and feature films.

Ready to dive in?


An NDA is full of a lot of jargon. It's full of legalese. And I'm by no means a lawyer, and nor am I qualified to give legal counsel, etc.

In other words, take my suggestions with a healthy dose of skepticism. 

Here's what you do need to do: You'll have to change the NDA up to mention YOUR STATE, not mine, not Uncle Bob's - your state.

I had a blog I was going to write about this very topic. I recorded myself, and I was going to transcribe it and have this jolly ole presentation. 

Then it occurred to me - this is what it feels like going through an NDA (whether as a student or as a teacher):


So to save you the pain and frustration of something that's pretty straightforward, but shrouded in dense, legalese, here you go.

Word of caution to the wise:

Change to your county and change "Nevada" in section 10 and 13 to your state.

Don't be a like a me and send a doc to someone to sign with provisions for New York or CA. 


Bold Mail

This one's from a long time supporter of Church Films, and it's a great question: 

I wanted to ask you about music for films and creative commons licenses.  Have you used music with these licenses and if so, did you have to credit the music a certain way?

Sure have, and I love public domain jingles. These are also known as CC0 works (essentially). You will never have any problems with those guys, and you can find some on 

Because I'm going to reference these sites a few times, let's just call them the Ole Boys for now.

With public domain tunes, you can drag them through the mud, remix 'em, fail to credit the original author, and do just about anything short of claiming them as your own or anything shady like that. 

Public domain tunes are the least restrictive. 

The next tier up would be the attribution and sharealike tunes. Any combo of these guys are okay for most microbudget filmmakers, so long as you credit the original author and DO NOT claim them as your own. That should always be a given. 

If it's on YouTube, I'll include a text description in the bottom, below the video player:

"ThisMusicTrack" by Uncle Bob:

If you have titles at the end of your flicker show, add a credit to the author and a place to find it.

And because we are in the people business (you and me), here's the extra mile I want you to walk: contact the author and let them know. 


Yes, it's good for relationship-building, and you need that more than you need another article, another piece of gear, or yet another lighting tutorial on YouTube. 

Make the asks, serve, shoot, over-deliver, ask for more

That's your job. 

Now, sharealike jams have one more restriction:

Oh, and you can find an assortment of these guys (for free) on the aforementioned Ole Boys.

Now I love anything that allows commercial use because that allows you to use your tunes in a variety of ways. While the Ole Boys have some tunes that fall into this category, finding any that are good is like asking to find Big Foot, a unicorn, Nessie, and Jimmy Hoffa all in the same day. 

You get what you pay for.

Which is why I encourage you to check out Art List

I'm not an affiliate, but their universal licensing (i.e. good for ANYTHING) and flat, yearly rate gives you more options than the usual fodder on these "free sites." 

$199 a year, and you're golden.

And last but not least...

Music Bed tunes are the Cadillac of indie and microbudget films and videos. I have used one of their tunes for a client. Just one.

How often do you rent a Cadillac?


Art List is the Ford Focus of music sites, and the Ole Boys are like the classic AMC Pacer sitting in your driveway that you know you need to chuck, but you're just too cheap to do it.

When you're starting out, use the Ole Boys, and when you've got some momentum, bump up to the Art List.


Do you know another site with Creative Commons tunes? Comment below to benefit our shared community of microbudget filmmakers.


Original: Aug 27, 2016; updated Aug 28, 2017

Jake the film guy

I want to encourage others and bring honor to the Almighty in everything that I do with film and video. My goal is to take the first 11 minutes of my tv pilot and seek out decision-makers who can further the conversation about developing it into a show. If my team and I can do that, then we can teach 100,000 other microbudget filmmakers how to do the same thing so that we might tell stories of hope to millions. In the meantime, I'm a son of the King, a family man, a lifelong student of film, and the author of two microbudget filmmaking books.