Film Advisors Inc.

Two former members of the Motion Picture Association of America’s Film Ratings Board have left to start a company called Film Ratings Inc. Indiewire has an article about them here and you can listen to them talking on this episode of KCRW’s The Business.

The company’s mission is to help filmmakers and studios navigate the Ratings Board’s decidedly opaque, frequently bewildering and intermittently infuriating process for assigning films G, PG, PG-13, R or NC-17 ratings in the U.S. market—essentially deciding each film’s financial fate and therefore deciding what consumers get to watch. The complaints against the Ratings Board are many—Kirby Dick’s 2006 film “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” offers a compelling indictment—but maybe the worst thing about it is that its methods are kept secret. In interviews, the Film Advisors founders unabashedly tout their knowledge of these restricted practices, which naturally they are willing to divulge to paying clients.

Imagine a similar body operating with similar impunity—but rating books instead of films. And imagine that the books that they assign certain ratings were effectively barred from sale at major book retailers. The notion seems antithetical to everything we believe about free speech. But it exists in film, and not only that, veterans like Film Advisors are putting themselves in the position to financially benefit from the whole warped scenario.