Movie Production and Screenwriting Codes of Ethics

The following links provide access to the pledges/codes of morality and standards associated with the motion picture industry, past and present.

  • Pledge of the Legion of Decency (Catholic)
  • Motion Pictures Association of America Official Code Objectives, including "Motion Pictures Rating System" and "Standards for Production" (1968) can also be found at the Digital History website (Note: the Standards of Production were not implemented.)
  • Code to Govern the Making of Talking, Synchronized and Silent Motion Pictures (The Hays Code) (also the same code, but also including the various versions, is described in detail at David P. Hayes website). This is the Production Code of the Production Code Administration of the Motion Picture Producers & Distributors of America
    , formally adopted March 1930 and went into effect in July 1934

  • Screenwriting With A Conscience: Ethics for Screenwriters by Marilyn Beker (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004)

    "Screenwriting With a Conscience: Ethics for Screenwriters, is for screenwriters who care deeply about what they write; screenwriters who are aware that movie images matter and can influence audiences; screenwriters who want to create meaningful screenplays that make powerful statements while entertaining and winning over audiences.

    A user-frinedly guide to ethical screenwriting, this book makes the case that social responsibility is endemic to public art while it emphatically champions First Amendment rights and condemns censorship.

    In this dynamic and practical volume, author Marilyn Beker provides methods for self-assessment of values, ideas, and ethical stances, and demonstrates the application of these values to the development of plot, character, and dialogue. Screenwriters are introduced to ethical decision-making models and shown through specific film examples how they can be utilized in plot and character development. In addition, specific techniques and exercises are supplied to help screenwriters determine the difference between good and evil, to write realistic and compelling characters based on this determination, and to present messages and write dialogue powerfully without preaching. This book also puts forth a livable work philosophy for dealing with the ethics of the screenwriting business, and presents a viable personal philosophy for surviving in the screenwriting world."

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