David Austin OBE

Chief Executive, British Board of Film Classification


David has been a judge in every Childnet Film Competition so far.

David, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role at 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.

 What does a ‘black card classification’ actually mean?

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.

We have had to radically change the format of the competition this year to enable it to continue as a both a school led and home learning project. What advice would you give to help anyone who is thinking of entering? 

I’m delighted that the Childnet film competition is back this year, as it’s so important in the current times to give children fun, educational activities to get involved in. You don’t need expensive or fancy equipment to enter the competition, this year it’s more about the story, your creative thinking and the message. I’m very much looking forward to judging once again, and seeing everyone’s interpretations.

Have you any favourite films from over the last 11 years? And if so, what was it that you like about them?

I’m always impressed by the high standard of entry and the creativity shown by all the filmmakers who enter the Childnet Film competition, and I certainly enjoy watching each and every one of them. A stand-out from last year was Christleton High School - ‘New Tools, Better Outcomes’. I was very impressed at the range of techniques the filmmakers used, as well as the thoughtful and important messages that came across in the script. The whole film worked very well and seeing it for the first time was a really memorable moment in the competition.