The BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) is an independent body, which classifies films to help the audiences of films to easily recognize what is or isn’t suitable for them to watch. It was originally established by the film industry in 1912, when local authorities had the responsibility of classifying films, but they easily accepted and followed the BBFC’s decisions. The benefit of having one independent body classifying films is that there is consistency around the country and one board to take the responsibility. However local authorities can still overrule the BBFC and are legally responsible for what is shown in cinemas under the licensing act of 2003. It was only in 1985 after the 1984 Recordings Act that the BBFC became the statutory authority for classifying videos/DVDs.
These are the main issues that the BBFC look for when they are classifying a film:
• No work taken as a whole may promote the misuse of drugs and any detailed portrayal of drug misuse likely to promote or glamorise the activity may be cut. Works which show drug misuse while emphasising the dangers may receive less restrictive classifications than works that present drug misuse in a neutral manner. Where smoking, alcohol abuse or substance misuse feature to a significant extent in works which appeal to children, this will normally be indicated in the Consumer Advice and/or Extended Classification Information.
• Many people are offended, some of them deeply, by bad language. This may include the use of expletives with a sexual, religious or racial association, offensive language about minority groups and commonly understood rude gestures. The extent of that offence may vary according to age, gender, race, background, beliefs and expectations brought by viewers to the work, as well as the context in which the word, expression or gesture is used.
• For these reasons, it is impossible to set out comprehensive lists of words, expressions or gestures which are acceptable at each category. The advice at different classification levels, therefore, provides general guidance taking account of the views expressed in public consultation exercises.
• The portrayal of sexual activity can range from kissing and verbal references to ‘making love’, to detail of real sex. This is reflected in the classification system, in which progressively stronger portrayals are allowed as the categories rise.
• Sex works (works whose primary purpose is sexual arousal or stimulation) are likely to be passed only in the adult categories. Sex works containing only material which may be simulated are generally passed ‘18’. Sex works containing clear images of real sex, strong fetish material, sexually explicit animated images, or other very strong sexual images will be confined to the ‘R18’ category. ‘R18’ video works may be supplied only in licensed sex shops which no one under 18 may enter.
• ‘R18’ films may be shown only in specially licensed cinemas.
• These Guidelines will be applied to the same standard regardless of sexual orientation.
• Violence has always been a feature of entertainment for children and adults. Classification decisions will take account of the degree and nature of any violence in a work.
• Works which feature the following are likely to receive more restrictive classifications: portrayal of violence as a normal solution to problems, heroes who inflict pain and injury, callousness towards victims, the encouragement of aggressive attitudes, and content which depicts characters taking pleasure in pain or humiliation.
• Sexualised violence or works which glorify or glamorise violence will receive a more restrictive classification and may even be cut.
• A strict policy on sexual violence and rape is applied. Content which might eroticise or endorse sexual violence may require cuts at any classification level. This is more likely with video works than film because of the potential for replaying scenes out of context. Any association of sex with non-consensual restraint, pain or humiliation may be cut.
Taken from the BBCF website – http://www.bbfc.co.uk/classification/guidelines/main-issues
The certificate that I have chosen for my film is a 15 mainly because of the mature theme of my film, which I do not believe to be suitable for younger teenagers/children, also because after looking at similar films of the same genre (such as the Notebook) and with the same themes, this seems to be the classification given to them.
The work as a whole must not endorse discriminatory language or behaviour.
Drug taking may be shown but the film as a whole must not promote or encourage drug misuse. The misuse of easily accessible and highly dangerous substances (for example, aerosols or solvents) is unlikely to be acceptable.
Strong threat and menace are permitted unless sadistic or sexualised.
Dangerous behaviour (for example, hanging, suicide and self-harming) should not dwell on detail which could be copied. Easily accessible weapons should not be glamorised.
There may be frequent use of strong language (for example, ‘fuck’). The strongest terms (for example, ‘cunt’) may be acceptable if justified by the context. Aggressive or repeated use of the strongest language is unlikely to be acceptable.
Nudity may be allowed in a sexual context but without strong detail. There are no constraints on nudity in a non-sexual or educational context.
Sexual activity may be portrayed without strong detail. There may be strong verbal references to sexual behaviour, but the strongest references are unlikely to be acceptable unless justified by context. Works whose primary purpose is sexual arousal or stimulation are unlikely to be acceptable.
No theme is prohibited, provided the treatment is appropriate for 15 year olds.
Violence may be strong but should not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury. The strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable. Strong sadistic or sexualised violence is also unlikely to be acceptable. There may be detailed verbal references to sexual violence but any portrayal of sexual violence must be discreet and have a strong contextual justification.
Taken from - http://www.bbfc.co.uk/classification/guidelines/15-2
Suggesting a classification of a 15 certificate for my movie, means that I can include any theme as long as I keep it appropriate for 15 year olds, I also can include sexual activity without strong detail.
Reading the guidelines laid out on the BBFC website has helped me with the content of my movie by making me aware of what is allowed and not allowed for each classification of a film. It has also made me aware that there are only small differences from each classification but by making my movie a 15 rather than a 12 means that I can make the film a little more mature and include a theme that is possibly not suitable for children of 12 and above. My film would not include violence, horror or imitable behavior, but it would include, bad language, sex scenes and limited nudity included in the sex scenes. By basing the film as a 15, it gives me as the filmmaker a little more freedom in how I express what is happening in the narrative.
*Any text in Italics is not my own work but taken from the web address as stated.
I have learnt from this piece of work that the BBFC has an enormous role in the film classification world in allowing certain things into films of certain classifications and I never realised how important this individual company is. This work allowed me to have a much clearer understanding of what is allowed to be shown in each classification and what classification my film ought to be. In conclusion to this piece of work, I think that my film if completed would be given a classification of 15. If my film is classified as a 15 then, I can include sexual and nude content in context with my movie, I also know that drug use is allowed and no theme is prohibited.