When the TV announcer warns you that the following programme contains "strong language", you expect a bit more than a few shits, couple of bollocks, and one single, solitary fuck, thrown in for the sake of it. Eleventh Hour has the same warning every week, but that's all you get. It feels like a bit of a cheat, saying "look out, big swearwords up ahead", when there really aren't. Almost like a desperate attempt to be seen as controversial or adult. I don't care if there's swearing or not, but don't prepare me for something that you're not going to deliver.
Most of the stuff I've written so far has got swearing in it. I don't do it to be cool, I don't decide to do it, I just do it. I swear a lot in real life, as do a lot of people. Severance is about a group of office workers getting attacked, maimed, or killed in various horrible ways, so all the characters swear. It would be ridiculous if they all maintained perfect, soapy clean mouths in that situation. Take the most polite, well mannered person, stab them in the arm with a rusty knife, and I guarantee you they'll immediately scream out words that would embarrass a sailor. So I didn't hold back or censor myself, and the script was quite a sweary cocktail. In the draft I originally sold, there are: 48 fucks or fuck variants, 25 shits, 10 bollocks, 8 bloodys, 6 arses, 6 pisses, 5 cocks, 4 bastards, and 1 prick. The most recent production draft has 46 fucks or fuck variants, so not much difference there. As for Curfew, it's a dark, gritty, violent horror thriller. Many people are killed, in extremely nasty ways. Without even thinking about it, I'm fairly positive that the characters are going to swear. The School had a light sprinkling of shits and bollocks, only bringing out the f-bomb when things got serious. The characters in it were fairly innocent, normal kids - not the glue sniffing, violent scumbags that kids really are - so their speech reflected that.
I've used a lot of swearwords. I even like to come up with swearword combos, to vary things. Like shitfucker, or cockwank. Two for the price of one. But the one swearword I haven't yet used in a script is the strongest one of all - cunt. Again, not a conscious decision. I say it a lot in real life, but so far, it hasn't found its way into a script. Maybe I'm waiting for the right place, the right moment. It is, after all, the best swearword. The one guaranteed to offend, guaranteed to get a reaction. Even in today's modern, cynical, naughty-words-before-the-watershed world, it's the one that'll always rub someone up the wrong way. It's special. So I'm saving it.
But my point is, if there's any point to this post other than to swear a lot and sound clever, that you shouldn't censor yourself. Don't throw in stuff to be deliberately offensive, but don't restrict the characters when it doesn't make sense to. People do bad things. They swear, they kill people, they have sex with people they shouldn't. So don't hold back. Unless it's a movie for kids, about a fluffy rabbit who has an amazing adventure, then you should probably try and avoid things like swearing, murder or incest. Mind you, who wouldn't pay to see a movie about a sweary cartoon rabbit who fucks and then kills his brother? It's a niche market, obviously, but they said that about every other genre.