David Austin OBE - BBFC

Chief Executive for the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC)

David has been a judge of the Film Competition for the last 10 years, we spoke to him about his experiences of being a judge and what he looks for in a winning film.

What is your role at the BBFC?

I'm the Chief Executive for the BBFC. It's my job to lead the BBFC.  I'm responsible for its day to day running, ensuring our standards and policies are in line with what families want and need, and for looking after relationships with industry, children's charities such as Childnet, and Government and Parliament.  I also get to watch films that need my decision on the classification.

David, what does it mean to have a ‘black card classification’?

Every time you go to the cinema, you'll see one of our famous Black Cards in front of the film you are about to watch. A Black Card displays the title of the film along with its age rating and rating information.  I sign the Black Card, along with the President of the BBFC, Patrick Swaffer. A BBFC age rating means your film was classified by us in line with our classification guidelines, which are based on public opinion, and that the film may legally be shown in any cinema in the UK.

You’ve been a judge for the Childnet Film Competition from the very start – what has made you want return year after year?

I love the buzz of the competition.  I enjoy seeing how the competition never fails to deliver a very diverse and creative array of short films. But other than that, helping families choose to view what's right for them is an integral part of our role, and the Childnet Film Competition is an engaging and creative way of encouraging children to think about online safety issues, while learning how to produce their own short films. Every year we talk to children, young people, parents and children about the content they are watching and their views on our classifications. Our Education Team are always visiting schools and colleges across the UK to talk to as many people as possible, and help them chose to view what's right for them.

What have been your highlights over the last 10 years of being a judge for the competition?

I enjoy seeing all the creative entries from children across the UK. This competition is a great way for children to try out their film making skills, learn about BBFC age ratings and help promote positive messages to other children and young people.

In your opinion, what’s the combination for making a winning film?

I think the competition is a great chance to be creative and work with friends or classmates in new ways. This year, I'll be looking for films that use interesting or fun techniques to get across the key messages of the competition.

Finally, how many films do you think you’ve watched?

Far too many to count, but it has to be easily in the thousands!


Favourite children’s film of all time?

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  It was the first film I ever saw at the cinema.  I loved the music, and still do.  I loved the idea of a car that flies.  And the film contains the scariest villain I've ever seen in a children's film – the Child Catcher!