Sunday, 19 December 2010

Audience and BBFC Rating

The BBFC is an independent, non-governmental body set up in 1912 to moderate the films we watch. It is a non-profit organisation, and the fees charged simply cover the cost of doing each job. As well as classifying the films we see in the cinemas, in 1984 the Video Recordings Act meant that they each film had to be seperately reviewed again before going on general release on DVD/Video etc. Local councils still hold some power over the BBFC, choosing to reject or amend their decisions if they want.
The guidelines in which they classify films are constantly being updated to represent society's views. "In the most recent consultation over 8700 members of the public were asked for their views on classification – including consideration of issues such as language, discrimination, violence, sex and drugs in films, DVDs and video games, parental concerns about younger viewers and recent BBFC decisions." (from BBFC website).

BBFC Classification Guidelines 2009                                                            


Black Swan [Darren Aronofsky][2011]

BBFC say "15. Contains strong sex, language and bloody images"
This is the most relevent of the classifications we looked at the BBFC as it is the most recently rated, not actually being released until January 2011.
Having not seen the film yet obviously, I can only go by what I have read about the film and it's trailer. The trailer itself was very dark and gruesome, and people are classing the film as psychological-horror.
 With Aronofosky's relentless past efforts all including alot of adult content such as in Requiem For A Dream and The Wrestler, and this one apparently being no different with a violent sex scene between two women, it is suprisinging that this film only recieves a 15 rating. This shows just how quickly society's views change on what is acceptable in a film.

The Shining [Stanley Kubrick][1980]

BBFC say : "15. Contains strong violence and language"

However the DVD version is given a rating of 18 with the BBFC still saying:
"Contains strong language and violence". This shows how the BBFC must adjust their classifications for what is acceptable to be shown on a cinema screen in comparison to in your own home. The DVD version is one minute longer which could suggest additional footage which gives it the 18 rating.

American Psycho [Mary Harron][2000]

BBFC say: "Passed '18' for strong sex, violence, language and some drug-taking"

Based on a book that is still banned in some places, many people said American Psycho could never be adapted to a film as it was just too explicit. The film was created though, and only just managed to scrape into the 18 rating. Still, 18 seconds of the film had to be removed, featuring central protagonist Patrick Bateman with two prostitutes and also oral sex. Some scenes from the book were missed out, only mentioned through dialogue in the film. This shows how a film must give in a little bit in order to be screened, however good that film may be.

Memento [Christopher Nolan][2000]

BBFC say: " 15. Contains strong language, once very strong, violence, sex & drug references".

 As far as I can remember this film only signifies sex, and does not show actually show it and the same with the drugs. This shows how even the mention of the two will raise the film's classification. The thing which I believe is the main cause of the 15 rating, is the "once very strong" language. Our views on language are constantly changing too, so it would be interesting if in a few years down the line, this film would still have a 15 rating.
After much debate and researching, we opted for our film to receive an 18 certificate. We considered the 15 rating given to similar films such as Memento and The Shining (re-rated in 2007), but after following the BBFC's guidelines, we felt our film would be only suitable for those over 18.We mainly felt this as the guidelines read on the subject of violence: "Violence may be strong but should not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury. The strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable". Our film does feature gore, certainly in the opening vision and conversation, and more would be more expected in a feature length film. As our film takes influence from films such as American Psycho and Fight Club, we feel that similar uses of repetitive swearing, horror and gore would probably feature in a full length edition, though not evident perhaps in the opening scene.



Because of the 18 certificate given to our film, the viewers should technically be above that age although clearly people do see films with certificates higher than their actual age. Our target audience is the age group of 18 - 35, as it features adult themes and content, that many people above that age may find unacceptable. That being said though they are still our secondary audience, as clearly not everyone has the same interests and views.
We have included a young cast with adult themes to try and broaden the spectrum of people that would be interested in our film.

In general this genre is very causausion dominated, with the occasional different ethnicity characters appearing in lesser roles as in The Shining, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (both played by Scatman Crothers) and Requiem For A Dream. Our film opening featues two caucasian actors. We probably incorporate the multi-ethnic cast idea in to ours if it was a full-length feature film, as again would help widen our market appeal.

Nationality/Regional Identity

 In our original version of the film opening, our central protagonist had an Australian accent. This was mainly his decision, but it was also useful for wider international appeal to the piece. That being said we have decided to get rid of it for the re-shoot, as people here in the UK were confused as to why he had it. As the UK is is our primary target audience (well along with the US) we decided the film was confusing enough already with it's plot line, without a character having a different accent for no reason.
  Both our two main characters are from Yorkshire, but in the opening you only hear our central protagonist speak and the Yorkshire accent isn't clearly signified. This was to gain the piece wider appeal throughout the UK and with international viewers in mind too. We found that with strong regional UK accents films did not do as well commercially in the USA, with Working Title's Mickybo and Me being a prime example.
 In general psycholgical thrillers are more of an American genre, with little British examples coming to mind (although Cuckoo by Richard Bracewell is a recent one). This means there is a gap in the market at the moment which our film would slot perfectly into, as well as still appealing to America.


Hitchcock introduced the idea of having a blonde woman central to the plotline (as seen in Vertigo, Psycho and The Birds and the majority of his later works). This idea still remains in most psychological thriller films today, so we were always insistent on it being that way in our film. Our two central characters are male and female meaning that we can target both genders.                                               
However we are aware that our genre generally has a large majority of male viewers. That is also why the inclusion of our female lead character will appeal to them as well, because of the male gaze theory. Because of the violence and sexuality of this genre it is hard for us to truly target a female audience (although there will always be exceptions), but we have done everything possible to try interest them in the film. The genre is more psychological than simply horror, thus it's plot, violence and the way it portrays women in general is more appealing to women than if it was a horror film.

Socio/Economic Group

The central characters in our film are a young couple of struggling lifestyles, meaning they have little social status. This is an almost socio-realist view, so we don't give a falsified view of our country like that shown in many Richard Curtis films such as Bridget Jones' Diary. His representation of Britain gives it wide international appeal to an American audience, but we are more concerned with creating a true, honest film. 
  Our social group shown is much more similar to that portrayed in Requiem For A Dream and The Shining. This means it will appeal more to a wider audience in the UK creating empathy towards the central characters. We didn't really want our film on class and economic groupings, we would much rather it focused on the characters. That being said, there will always be a level of argument about class, and would be open to interpretations. When originally thinking about our plot, we did suggest that our central protagonist was constrained by the society around him.


Our characters are in a hetrosexual relationship. This genre struggles to target a homosexual audience, as there are very little signs of homosexuality throughout. Darren Aronofsky's latest film Black Swan though does feature a scenes of lesbianism, which shows it can be done. Our film though probably wouldn't, although again it something which could be looked further into. But importantly Aronofosky's use isn't to create a wider appeal for his film, it is done as a puroposeful part of the plot.

Fans of...

Great directors such as Hitchcock, Kubrick, Aronofsky and Christopher Nolan. All these directors deal with great detail into the imagery shown on screen. It's more than having just a good plot, it's about how it looks, sounds and the impact it has on it's audience. In general people that like these films, have a much wider knowledge of films and are avid fans of cinema. These directors don't have to work with big-budgets (though they can) to put across a great film. Clearly not working with a big budget is something that is central to this project. 
  Many of the films in this genre create a lot controversy but also more important to their audience, they are open to interpretation. This means that psychology becomes a part of these films. In subjects like Psychology and Sociology people actually study films like A Clockwork Orange, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and Memento. Because of their great cinematography they are also looked at in Art, and because of their deep plotlines they are analysed in English. This means people who like these subjects may very well like these films, as they work on so many levels.


Our target audience is for those aged 18 - 35 years, with perhaps a more serious interest in film. It would appeal more to the older audiences because of the complex narrative, adult themes and more sophisticated violence. We expect the majority of our audience to be males, but have tried to appeal to women too. They would appreciate films by the likes of Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock and Darren Aronofsky. 

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