Directing Nudity and Simulated Sex

Creating a safe environment to create daring work.

Context

As the professional body for directors working in the UK screen industries, we know that our members don’t want anyone to feel unsafe, exploited or mismanaged in the casting suite or on set. Directors just want to tell compelling and impactful stories.

Whenever a performer has to take their clothes off or perform a simulated sex act on camera, they are inherently vulnerable, and directors have a responsibility to manage situations like this in a considered and respectful way.

Risks to performers can include:

  • Intimidation to participate (bullying)
  • Body shaming and ridicule
  • Gender-based derision and humiliation
  • Reputational damage
  • Objectification
  • Stalking and obsessive behaviours from others
  • Unwanted physical contact
  • Molestation
  • Physical assault
  • Sexual assault

As directors we can play a huge role in setting a professional tone on set and in helping to create a more positive and collaborative working environment.

In this context, we are providing directors with clear and practical guidance on directing scenes of nudity and simulated sex, so that directors and performers both feel safe to make daring work.

Download the Quick Guide for Screen Directors

Download the full Guidance Notes for Screen Directors

Aims

Embracing a duty of care is vital in all aspects of directing, but even more so when directing nudity and simulated sex. Our guidance addresses concerns around the vulnerability and consent of those involved in capturing this material.

Our guidance is intended to:

  • Provide directors with enhanced craft skills in directing nudity and simulated sex that are built on collaboration, safety and consent.
  • Provide performers with a safe environment that values and respects dignity, especially when a narrative requires nudity or simulated sex acts.
  • Give performers genuine agency in what actions their characters take.
  • Support producers in their work to create a safe production environment.
  • Give agents and casting directors confidence in the safety of the working environment for their clients and performers.
  • Reassure performers that they should never feel expected to offer nudity or simulated sex in order to gain work.

A Collaborative Approach

As well as consulting with members on the best way to approach this material, we’ve also approached colleagues across the sector for their insight. Performers, casting directors, agents, intimacy coordinators, sister unions and guilds, and production companies have all contributed to this work. The resulting guidance takes the input from these disciplines and sets out clear and shared professional expectations about how this work should be handled.

The Guidance

Benefits of This Work

  • Health and safety policies and risk assessments help to protect everyone, but so does an evolution in the way directors engage with performers.
  • Professionalism, courtesy and respect are not budget dependent and our guidance creates a practical and consensual approach regardless of budget constraints.
  • Performers are rightly beginning to challenge some historic on-set and casting behaviours around nudity and simulated sex — this provides everyone with a commonly acceptable framework within which to work.
  • Our guidance can positively rebalance the power dynamics between performer and director.
  • Intimacy coordinators (ICs) are available, and our guidance will help directors get the most out of their relationships with them.
  • Directors will also be better able to manage the process whenever budgets can’t accommodate ICs.

Creating guidance isn’t about censorship or preventing storytellers from breaking new ground or pushing boundaries. It’s about telling stories that demand nudity or simulated sex in a collaborative and safe manner.

Action

  • We will be sharing our guidance with sister guilds and unions for them to share with their members.
  • We will work with our industry and media partners to get this guidance to production companies, film institutes and educational bodies.
  • We will make this document available free of charge to anyone who wants it.
  • We will review and update this guidance as the landscape evolves.

We also advocate that alongside using the guidance, directors should:

  • Always be mindful of the risks to performers created by nudity and simulated sex scenes.
  • Be familiar with the detail of the health and safety policies of the production company you’re working for, adhere to them and apply them to your work.
  • Be aware of the details of the risk assessments and control measures of the production and not create risks for performers.
  • Have read and understood the restrictions of the Obscene Publications Act, BBFC Classification Guidance and Ofcom Broadcast guidance.

Contributors

BBC Films
Carey Dodds Associates
The Casting Directors Guild
Vanessa Coffey (Intimacy Co-ordinator)
Yarit Dor (Intimacy Co-ordinator, Intimacy Directors International)
Equity
Kristina Erdely (Casting Director, CSA)
Ita O’Brien (Intimacy Co-ordinator, Intimacy on Set)
The Writers Guild of Great Britain

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