I decided to research the film classifications and age rating system of the UK and USA, so I could see the difference and how my short may be rated in each country. Here is my research into the USA’s rating system:
In the USA (and its territories), the Motion Picture Association of America’s film rating system is used. However, unlike the UK, there is no law to enforce this, ratings are completely voluntary. Furthermore, films can be shown without having been rated, although cinemas may refuse to show these films. If a film has not been rated by a member of the MPAA, a non-member can submit it to be rated. It is not the only rating system, but is the most commonly used.
According to the MMPA (Motion Picture Association of America):
Classification G – General Audiences:
All ages can watch this film at the cinema, and buy or rent it. Nothing would be included in this film that could offend parents of the children watching.
Classification PG – Parental Guidance Suggested:
Some of the material in this film may not be suitable for some children. Parents are adviced to judge whether the film would be suitable for their child/children or not.
Classification PG13 – Parents Strongly Cautioned:
Some of the material in this film may be inappropriate for children under 13. Parents are adviced to judge whether the film would be suitable for their child/children or not, as some content within the film is likely to not be suitable for pre-teenagers.
Classification R – Restricted:
Anyone under the age of 17 will need to be accompanied by an adult in order to watch this film in the cinema. Under 17’s would not be able to buy or rent a Rated-R film. This film contains some kind of adult material which may be inappropriate for those under 17. A parent would need to seriously consider the content of the film before taking a younger child/ younger children to see it in the cinema.
Classification NC17 – Adults Only/ Suitable for 18 and over:
No one under the age of 18 will be allowed to see this film in the cinema, nor can they buy or rent it. The content of the film is clearly adult and would not be suitable for children or younger teenagers.
Classification NR / Classification UR – Films without ratings:
Not Rated or Un-Rated is the classification for films that have not been rated. This will be shown instead of the rating, or can sometimes simply say “This Film Is Not Rated Yet”.