Shooting Sex Scenes: Insights from Experts

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Shooting Sex Scenes: Insights from Experts

• Over the past decade, explicit and authentic sex scenes have been scarce due to various off-screen protocols.
• Recent productions such as “Normal People,” “Bridgerton,” and “Sex Education” are leading the way in depicting nuanced and groundbreaking sex scenes.
• Intimacy coordinators are involved from the script-reading stage to understand and set boundaries for actors.
• The director provides a clear vision for the scene outlined in a written agreement with details agreed upon by all parties.
• On shooting day, the set is closed, modesty garments and padding are provided, and rehearsal occurs first.
• During filming, intimacy coordinators pay attention to verbal/nonverbal cues of actors to confirm consent and make adjustments accordingly.

Sex scenes on the big and small screen can be a make-or-break moment for any production. But with the right approach, they can capture the essence of intimacy and become iconic. So, how do directors and intimacy coordinators bring these scenes to life? We contacted industry veterans Sheree Folkson and Ita O’Brien to uncover the behind-the-scenes process.

In the past decade, explicit and authentic sex scenes have been scarce due to various challenges, including poor off-screen protocols. However, things are changing. Shows like “Normal People,” “Bridgerton,” and “Sex Education” are leading the way with nuanced and groundbreaking depictions. Even films like “Passages,” “All of Us Strangers,” and Netflix’s “Fair Play” are embracing sensual moments with finesse.

With this resurgence of explicit content, thanks to the expertise of intimacy coordinators, you may be wondering about the secrets behind the scenes. How are these scenes planned and executed?

According to Ita O’Brien, the intimacy coordinator is ideally involved from the script-reading stage, just like a fight choreographer or stunt coordinator. This early involvement allows for a clear breakdown of intimate content, ensuring that actors understand the boundaries and intentions set by the producers.

Once the cast is finalized, director Sheree Folkson shares her vision with the actors and the intimacy coordinator, always respecting the coordinator’s presence during discussions about the scenes. This collaboration leads to a written agreement outlining the scene’s details.

The intimacy coordinator plays a vital role in supporting the actor-director process. They establish consent and agreements regarding physical contact, addressing what the actors are comfortable showing. They also collaborate with other departments, such as costume designers and location scouts, to ensure a smooth and safe shooting experience.

On the day of filming, sex scenes are always shot on closed sets with minimal crew present. Modesty garments and padding are provided to protect the actors, and thorough rehearsals help everyone understand and execute the choreography effectively.

During filming, the intimacy coordinator closely observes the actors, paying attention to their verbal and non-verbal cues ensuring boundaries are respected. Consent is ongoing, and adjustments can be made based on the actor’s comfort level.

In film and television, shooting sex scenes is an intricate art that requires collaboration, trust, and meticulous planning. But with the guidance of intimacy coordinators and a supportive environment, these scenes can transcend the realm of awkwardness and become breathtaking moments on screen.

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