13 April 2021 - 10:54 BY Louw
Nudity: Know This For Nudity Scenes
I have heard some horror stories when it comes to nudity scenes on film sets. It’s never been that anyone got abused, but just the disrespect for the actor when it comes to these sensitive scenes.
I want to make this clear: YOU HAVE ALL THE RIGHT IN THE WORLD TO STOP A SCENE WHEN YOU FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE AT ANY POINT. Please, don’t let people take advantage of your vulnerability.
That’s what we do, we become vulnerable in front of a group of people to communicate ideas and emotions to an audience, to tell a story. I had experienced self-doubting my sensitivity when it came to nudity scene, thinking, “It’s just because it’s scary that I feel sensitive, so don’t say anything when you’re uncomfortable.” Nope. You have all the right to call “cut” when you feel uncomfortable.
This is how nude scenes should be handled (having done nude scenes with incredible filmmakers):
Firstly: The director should discuss the shooting process for the nudity scene. How she is planning to shoot it, how many shots, what she wants to show on the screen (what body parts) and also discuss a process of what happens after they call “cut.” For example: everyone stands still, keeping their eyes off the nude actors and let wardrobe bring them gowns or clothing. Discuss in advance a process with your director a process that you feel comfortable with.
Closed Set: The Assistant Director should call for a closed set. This means only a select few crew members are allowed on set. For example; the director, cinematographer, boom swinger (and maybe the AD can enter and exit to call action and cut.) Ensure you discuss with the AD (assistant director) before you shoot the nude scene about who is allowed and make sure you are 100% comfortable with the set’s crew members. NB: for an actor, it’s important to be comfortable and present within each scene, so it’s important that you create this environment with your director and AD.
Call cut: At any point you feel uncomfortable, you can call “cut.” Don’t feel embarrassed – this is your art, your craft, you need to do it to the best of your ability and the audience will be looking at YOU on screen, not the DOP or Director. So take responsibility for your craft and be confident in using your vulnerable time wisely.
First Time: Especially if it’s your first time on a set shooting a nude scene – don’t let that “I’m a student/first-timer/amateur/inexperienced actor” thought keep you from getting clarity on these scenes or if you feel uncomfortable. Communication is KEY. Production companies want you to communicate as transparently and honestly as possible, they’re on your side, so even if it’s your first time, don’t be shy to speak up or ask for clarity. You have permission.
Important: As weird as this may sound, have fun. Nude scene is anything but sexy and romantic. It’s mechanical and weird, yes – that weirdness never goes away. Embrace it. Before the scene have a conversation with your co-actor about all the “allowed” touches, kissing and embracing. This creates a mutual understanding and you can now feel a bit more comfortable going into this crazy-weird situation with them. Laugh and have fun because it’s sometimes super awkward and the more you can try and release that awkwardness with fun, the more comfortable you will become and you can just trooper through the scene.
I’ve had my fair share of going all commando on stage and screen but the beautiful thing that I experienced was a total release and feeling of freedom. We all have those bits and pieces and naked flesh. The more you don’t focus on being naked and embrace the scene, the less your audience will even notice you being naked but truly be “in” the scene with you. That just got weird, not that they would be with you while you’re naked but… you get what I’m saying ;)
I discuss this process in lesson 17 of A Practical Introduction to Film Acting.
They tell me: ‘OK, this is where we’re going to push up your cleavage,’ and I’m like, ‘What cleavage?’
How did you find the technique/tool/advice? Did it work for you? What was different this time? Share with the tribe and let’s keep on creating beautiful, honest and memorable performances. Let’s execute our best selves!
Edwin van der Walt