gore/violence vs. ratings



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  • gore/violence vs. ratings

    How far can one go violence-wise when aiming for a PG-13 rating?

    Raiders of the Lost ark had a scene where a heart got ripped out and the fight scene between the two kids was pretty intense as well, yet that managed to get a PG-13 rating. This was probably because it was Spielberg, but that was almost twenty years ago, so do you think they'd let that slide by default now?

    I'm asking because I'm writing an upbeat thriller starring and aimed at kids, but I don't want it to feel like it's pulling any of its punches and I want the killer to appear as a genuine menace, so I'm planning on adding about 2 semi-graphic scenes.
    (First few pages here: p068.ezboard.com/fdonedealfrm32.showMessage?topicID=2056.topic , although there's no graphicness to comment on in there: it's nothing more than a shameless self-plug)

    Btw, do you think it'd be okay to MENTION child molestation?

  • #2
    Maybe I'm wrong, but I think you'd have to have more involvement in the film's production than just being its screenwriter.


    • #3
      I wouldn't let your concern about ratings affect how you tell a story in your first draft of a spec script. Just focus on telling the story as well as you possibly can.

      The MPAA ratings are so tricky that it's impossible to guess, when writing a screenplay, whether something would end up as a PG-13 or an R unless you're going for a hard R.

      So don't worry about it right now.


      • #4
        Kinda besides the point, but still...

        I think you're referring to Temple Of Doom, not Raiders. And if I remember correctly, Spielberg has said on a number of occasions he regrets all the gratuitous violence in that film. Not that it matters in this context....but I thought it was interesting.


        • #5
          Re: Kinda besides the point, but still...

          Btw, do you think it'd be okay to MENTION child molestation?
          Well, there was the scene in Temple of Doom where Indy has his way with Short Round, but only Spielberg could get away with something like that. Keep the pedophilia in your script to a minimum. Unless it's done tastefully, of course....


          • #6
            Re: Kinda besides the point, but still...


            I think TheKeenOne said it. Just write the script.

            Pedophilia in a script is a touchy subject and there's no way it can be done tastefully. The audience is always going to be revolted. But it may be necessary for protag creation. Mentioning it? Yes. It can be done. It may even be necessary to explain that sort of backstory to create a specific character's persona...

            Maybe you have a waif archetype. An introvert. Sexual abuse would explain self abuse, shyness, a real opportunity for character growth. And an easy character to understand due to what society knows about child molestational topics.

            That makes an easily identifiable character and I'd say go for it.


            • #7
              Don't aim for anything. The more gore the better.


              • #8
                then, his head explodes and brains splash into her mouth...

                There's a certain amount of common sense involved - if lots of limbs are getting hacked off with a chainsaw, chances are that's not going to end up with a PG-13. But most of the time, the rating is going to have more to do with the way it's filmed... which isnt your job.

                If your descriptions are filled with blood and guts, that may be a problem for two reasons: maybe you've got too much description and maybe some people will wonder if you like blood and guts so much that you might not be pleasant to work with.

                - Bill


                • #9
                  Have blood and guts only if it's really necessary. I wrote an action script with maybe 2 deaths. No senseless violence for me, the story worked better for it.



                  • #10
                    I think worrying about what rating your script is going to get while you are writing it is silly and limits the ability to tell the story you want to tell.

                    But here is the MPAA Website with info about the ratings system. goooogle is our friend.

                    And TEMPLE OF DOOM was rated PG when it was released. PG-13 didn't officially exist until two months later.