View Full Version : PG or not to PG
05-16-2001, 10:00 AM
Hey guys. Let's talk about ratings. Like, where exactly do the lines get drawn? "Over the bra, under the blouse, shoes off, hoping to God your parents don't walk in... Over the panties, no bra, blouse unbuttoned, Calvin's in a ball on the front seat..."
And swears. Drat, darn, damn, shoot, @#%$, cripes, crap, @#%$, @#%$, bitch, dick, @#%$ bastards why don't they put out a pamphlet? Or maybe they do.
And the benefits, and drawbacks. Type of movie and type of audience, and hey, which ratings draw the biggest crowds.
Your participation is appreciated.
05-16-2001, 10:14 AM
PG is something your parents won't be embarrassed to take you to see.
R is something you'd be embarrassed to have your parents take you to see.
XXX is something you saw before you were of legal age to go see R, but you will always remember that one summer you happened upon that bootlegged copy of "behind the green door"...
05-16-2001, 10:25 AM
Its a combination of violence, language and sexual content.
I don't know much about the sex content. Most of my stuff has limited sexual contant next to the amount of violence/swearing.
Drop the F-bomb. Pretty much kiss your PG rating goodbye.
Non graphic violence - can have a PG. Think Rush hour. It was PG-13. There was a few shots fired, couple blow ups.
Mature Subject matter - that's the subjective nebulus for ratings. What is mature subject matter? Depends who you talk to...
05-16-2001, 10:39 AM
Wow. It edited me. Amazing. I guess actually that's about as good a guide of what passes in PG and what doesn't as anything...
05-16-2001, 11:03 AM
My rule of thumbs is never be excessive in any of these, just like drinking, smoking cha cha cha..
if theres an important point to make in your story that needs extra gingerbread, go for it, but don't
over do it like so many have.
05-16-2001, 11:22 AM
The problem with the ratings system as it exists today is that the tone of the film can have as much of an impact on the MPAA's decision as can language, violence or sex. Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer comes to mind as one essentially bloodless film with few (and minor) scenes of violence that was rated NC-17 by the MPAA. You know what the worst part about it was? They couldn't tell John McNaughton why they rated it NC-17. They told him he had to make cuts to get an R. They couldn't tell him where or how much. It was the "tone" of the film that scuttled it.
Essentially, McNaughton did his job too well. He made an amazing horror film outside the conventions of the form that spoke to people on a level much deeper than they were comfortable with.
Then comes the notion that certain film makers are automatically given leeway in what they can and can not show on the screen. If Spielberg had made Henry, he would have had his R. As it was, Spielberg had a heart plucked from the chest of a living man in close up (Temple of Doom), held up for all to see in its grisly glory while the still living man watched in horror. Then the heart bursts into flames. Then the man, still alive, is slowly lowered into a pit of molten rock. He bursts into flames, and we are treated to yet another close up shot of his writhing body engulfed in flame.
PG-13, thank you very much.
It's an old argument, but the truth remains that the MPAA has way too much power for a bunch of stay-at-home blue-hairs with too much time on their hands.
Years ago Tony Timpone (who edited Fangoria and Starlog in the 80s -- might still be doing it for all I know) took the MPAA to task in a series of public debates on talk shows, radio call-in shows, etc an after a while, Valenti stopped showing up. The truth is, as was demonstrated time and time again by Timpone and for which Valenti had no rebuttal (in fact, even shot himself in the foot a few times by claiming to be the moral watchdog for Amercian families while trying to convince people he had no agenda other than enforcing the MPAA's ratings policies) that the MPAA is a bias and archaic agency that would be better disbanded and reshaped into something that more closely reflects the values of middle America.
Whew. That was fun.
Having said all that, the MPAA still rules Hollywood like no other power before or since and we all have to work with that in mind or we risk creating things which will never be seen except by a few hardy souls willing to attend midnight screenings in bad parts of town.
Just me pissing into the wind.
05-16-2001, 12:04 PM
Are you asking with the intent of writing your screenplay around the ratings?
I've heard repeatedly (pros correct me if I'm wrong) not to do this. Just use your voice to tell your story. Let them worry about ratings WAY down the line.
The obvious exception to this, however, is...don't start swearing a blue streak in the middle of your "Little Mermaid."
I know that's a big "DUH!" But someone will bring it up, trust me.
05-16-2001, 12:27 PM
Right- no, actually there were two specific reasons. One, I think it's a subject that SHOULD be talked about. Often. Vociferously.
Two, I've got a PG film, essentially a film people can take their ten and twelve year olds to and they'll enjoy it and the kiddies will hopefully enjoy it, and I'm shooting for a PG rating except one character says "@#%$" a total of, I think, seven times. Oh yeah, and there's some "sexual content"- read no ****, no ass, no discussion about it, but you know damn well they did the dirty. I think I'm okay, it might slide up into PG 13, but hey. And thinking about it, I realised I didn't know what the rules were. Apparently, according to Wingnut (good post btw!!), neither does the MPAA. Dontchya just LOVE censorship?
05-16-2001, 12:30 PM
That edit above was, btw, s-h-eye-t. Amazing.
05-16-2001, 02:26 PM
Wingnut beat me to it!
There are no actual MPAA ratings guidelines. The F-word in one film might get a PG-13, and in another might get it an R. And nothing about it makes any sense!
So don't worry about it.
Use common sense (Janea's LITTLE MERMAID thing) - if you're writing a kids film, the F-word probably won't fit the story - let alone graphic sex or violence.
Pick a handful of recent films like your story and see what they got away with. SPY KIDS has parents who are very much in love - adults will know they have an active sex life, but there's no overt mention of it. No scenes showing them nekkid. They just kiss a lot (eeeeew!).
Know who the audience for your film is. Write it to fit them.
If we're talking about a historically accurate screenplay/production of Grania here, DC, you will NOT get a PG rating. Possibly PG-13, but that would be pushing it. If we're talking about a different story, then that's different.
The Messenger (Joan of Arc) got an "R". It had to. Unless it wanted to whitewash/sanitize the story and turn it into crap.
05-16-2001, 03:19 PM
Depends if you have marketbility in mind or not. I try to keep the business side of things firmly in perspective i.e. the market appeal of the story I'm writing.
When I started my action script I wanted something that was firmly PG-13. Why - broader market appeal and thus a better chance of being sold.
It is still the story I wanted to tell, but there is no nudity, minimal swearing and low to medium violence.
My first story was going to be R-rated from the get go. Violence, nudity, mature langauge (since trimmed down at bit) and dark subject matter. But i set uot to tell a dark story that raced along at breaneck speed.
So I do keep in mind rating when I wrie to a degree, especially if I'm trying to target a broad audience.
I agree with Kosk - many historical stories are not PG enough in the PC society we live in.
The Black Robe: "R"
05-16-2001, 04:09 PM
No, Kosk, I agree. GRANIA couldn't be anything but R- there's dismemberments and beheadings galore (never in a million years would have guessed what FUN it is writing a good battle scene!) Plus a rather nasty not-quite-rape scene.
This is a different script, heartwarming little story type. I'm not sure if I'm appalled that the MPAA doesn't have it together enough to establish firm guidelines, or heartened that they have sense enough to leave a good deal of flexibility in the system. Or maybe I should just admit that I think the whole thing is a little foolish. The trailers make it PDO what you're getting, by and large.
Why in hell was Elizabeth an R? The nudity? Come on, it wasn't THAT hot.
05-16-2001, 04:13 PM
The MPAA do have certain guidelines. You can use "f-ck" once and get a PG-13. Twice or more is an R.
Why does a fairly innocent movie like Jackie Chan's DRUNKEN MASTER get an R rating when there is no cursing or nudity, and the violence is played for laughs? Because there's a hits-per-minute rule that can also elevate a movie's rating to an R.
But you shouldn't be worrying about any of this during the writing phase.
If it's a heartwarming little story, then I agree with CRASH and say don't worry about it, since the characters of such a genre/plot (from what you implied) needn't do anything that would earn a rating harsher than a PG or PG-13. Additionally, also ala CRASHisms, you probably need not worry about that now, as since when you sell it, there will be re-writes and requested changes anyway.
If the systewm is already gonna ask you for extra work, don't give the system any more ammo than it already has.
As for why Elizabeth got an "R", all I can say is that to wowzers, nudity is nudity, period.
Sad, but true.
05-16-2001, 04:35 PM
my understanding is that close up shots of genitalia will actually get you an XXX rating, which can then severely limit distribution to a few different labels in the san fernando valley, and limit your audience to those in paybooths, mail order catalogues and the mitchell bros. theatre in san francisco.
makes no sense whatsoever.
Unless those close-ups are of Terrance Stamp.
05-16-2001, 04:56 PM
Hey, the fruity people are those sadists who keep doing nude shots of Harvey Keitel.
You are in such a mood today.
05-16-2001, 06:17 PM
I'm just drawn that way.
05-17-2001, 05:52 AM
As for the XXX rating, I think a lot of filmakers will push for either NC-17 or just NR (is that the right rating for not rated). Especially art house targetted films since most art house theaters will play either of the above mentioned ratings. Requiem for a Dream for instance. I don't have kids but when I do I will force them to watch that movie to make sure they never do drugs. Not that all drugs are really that bad, but those...Damn, there I go again.
05-17-2001, 06:09 AM
actually if you want your kids to not do drugs, there are a few places you can take them to, that are better than a movie.
show them how "glam" it is to wind up in any or all of those places.
05-17-2001, 08:04 AM
crackhouse? jail? morgue?
I'm lazy. DVD in front of a TV is more conveinent. But, unless my brother doesn't straighten out they might get to see #2 while visiting their uncle.
05-21-2001, 01:07 AM
Writing to get a specific rating would be impossible as some of the archane rules of the MPAA apply to a directors or editors choices.
A two shot showing a man with a gun shoot another in the same frame gets an R.
The same two actors, one shown pointing and firing the gun and then a cut to the other getting his wound and falling can get PG13.
A bare breast might get PG, PG13, Or R, depending on how long it is on screen. Someone actually uses a stopwatch and times it.
05-21-2001, 03:16 PM
Oh, the minutiae of details that fascinate tiny minds...
It must take a unique sort of person to, with a perfectly good sex scene going on in front of them, sit there with their stopwatches counting "nine, ten, eleven..."
The unique sort of person is named Tipper Gore. :rolleyes
05-23-2001, 01:15 AM
1. Spielberg's <!--EZCODE ITALIC START--> Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom<!--EZCODE ITALIC END--> was and still is PG, not PG-13, but it was the film that caused the MPAA to create the PG-13 rating.
2. There are no guidelines. A committee rates the films and can assign any rating they want.
3. The head of MPAA has stated that use of the F word is not an automatic R rating. Presumably a film could have the F word and still get a PG-13 or even a PG provided the word was used in the context of "make love" and not the explitive or curse that it usually is. However, I know of no film which illustrates this point.
4. The usual practice it to imform the filmmaker of what cuts the MPAA wants in order to change a film's rating. However, this is not done if the cuts essentially add up to "burn the negative."
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