How are Films, Videos and DVDs classified?
Anyone wanting to release a film, video or DVD for showing in cinemas or watching at home has to make sure that their movie has a BBFC classification symbol. It's against the law to try and sell videos and DVDs without this. Films that you see at the cinema also have to display the right symbol.
This is what happens to every film, video or DVD before you get to see them in cinemas or at home.
Step 1Once a movie is finished or ready to be sold on video or DVD, its owner, (often called a 'distributor'), sends it into the BBFC with a form telling us vital information about its length, whether it's on film, video or DVD and even what classification they would like it to have. They have to pay to have their film or video/DVD examined and classified.
The film or DVD then gets measured by the BBFC's Technical Department. This is very important because distributors are charged according to the length of their film or video/DVD. This department also checks the quality of the film to make sure it's good enough to be viewed by the examiners, the people who will eventually recommend a classification for it.
With so many films and DVDs coming into the BBFC, it's up to the Information Services Department to make sure that everything gets examined and classified as soon as possible. A daily schedule or timetable is created on the BBFC's computer system that lists all the films and DVDs that need to be examined.
Examiners check the schedule to see what to watch. It might be DVDs, films or both. These are normally watched by a team of two examiners. Examiners take notes and then decide on a classification. They write a report on each film or DVD, no matter how short. The BBFC classifies trailers, adverts and DVD add-ons as well. The report is read and checked by Senior Examiners, who will confirm the classification. Sometimes a movie is watched by a second team to help make sure that it gets the right classification.
Step 5The owner, or distributor, is told the decision and later sent a certificate with the classification on it. They can then begin to think about releasing their film. The certificate, sometimes called 'the black card' has to be shown at the start of each cinema screening. For DVDs, the distributor has to make sure every copy has the correct BBFC classification symbol on its cover.
Back to Decision Room