NC-17 Vs MA: What Is The Difference, And Why It Matters To Filmmakers?
In the world of film classification, there are a variety of ratings used to indicate the age-appropriateness of a piece of media. Among the most restrictive of these ratings are the NC-17 and MA ratings, which are designed to limit access to content that is considered too mature for children and young teens. While these two ratings share many similarities, there are some key differences between them that all filmmakers should be aware of. In this article, we’ll explore what NC-17 and MA ratings are, what the differences are between them, and why they matter to filmmakers who want to create bold and boundary-pushing content.
What Are NC-17 And MA Ratings?
NC-17 and MA ratings are two of the strictest classifications used in film classification. NC-17, which stands for “No Children Under 17 Admitted,” is a rating used by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to indicate that a film is not suitable for viewers under 17 years old. This rating was introduced in 1990, replacing the X rating, which had become synonymous with adult content and pornography. NC-17 films can only be screened in theaters that are willing to show them and cannot be advertised in certain media outlets.
MA, meanwhile, stands for “Mature Audiences Only” and is used by the Television and Motion Picture Rating System (TV/MPRS) in Australia to indicate that a film is suitable only for adult audiences. This rating was also introduced as a replacement for the X rating, and is used to designate films with a high level of mature content, including nudity, strong language, and scenes of graphic violence.
What Is The Difference Between NC-17 And MA Ratings?
While the NC-17 and MA ratings both indicate that a film is not suitable for children, there are some key differences between the two that filmmakers must be aware of. The most significant difference is that NC-17 is a rating used exclusively in the US, while MA is used in Australia. This means that films seeking wider international distribution may need to be edited or re-rated depending on the distribution locale.
Additionally, the criteria for what constitutes an NC-17 film versus an MA film can vary slightly between the two ratings systems. In the US, the MPAA considers a film to be NC-17 if it contains “material that most parents would consider inappropriate for children under 17.” This can include scenes of explicit sexuality, drug use, or violence that go beyond what is typically seen in R-rated films. In Australia, meanwhile, the TV/MPRS bases its MA rating on a range of criteria, including the frequency, intensity, and graphic nature of any mature content in the film.
Why Do NC-17 And MA Ratings Matter To Filmmakers?
For filmmakers, understanding the differences between NC-17 and MA ratings is essential when creating mature content that pushes the boundaries of traditional storytelling. While these ratings can limit access to a film, they can also be used to generate interest and buzz, drawing attention to provocative themes and subject matter that might otherwise be overlooked. However, it’s important to understand that receiving an NC-17 or MA rating can also limit the distribution and advertising opportunities for a film, potentially limiting its reach and impact.
One key consideration for filmmakers is how to navigate the rating system in order to get their films seen by as wide an audience as possible. In the US, the MPAA ratings board is notoriously secretive about its decision-making process, but filmmakers can seek guidance and advice from established industry professionals to help them craft their films to meet the standards of the NC-17 rating. They can also choose to submit their films for re-rating if they feel that the rating given is too restrictive or unfair.
In Australia, the TV/MPRS has a more transparent process for film classification, with clear guidelines and standards posted on their website. Filmmakers can use this information to make informed decisions about how to approach mature content and ensure that their film receives the appropriate rating. They can also choose to submit their films for reclassification if they disagree with the initial rating.
NC-17 and MA ratings are important classifications used to designate mature content that is not suitable for children or young teens. While the two ratings share many similarities, there are some key differences between them that filmmakers must be aware of. By understanding the differing criteria used by the MPAA and TV/MPRS, filmmakers can craft their films to meet the standards of these ratings and navigate the system to ensure that their films reach the widest possible audience. Ultimately, the decision to seek an NC-17 or MA rating rests with the filmmaker, who must balance the desire to push artistic boundaries with the potential limitations of receiving a restrictive rating.