The ongoing covid-19 pandemic continues to impact working conditions, notably in the film and television industry where compliance with social-distancing rules is particularly challenging. In a bid to limit the spread of the virus and protect the safety of actors and actresses, the British professional association Directors UK proposed a number of alternatives for the shooting of intimate scenes in a report published in the last week.
What is going to happen to big-screen kisses? In the midst of the covid-19 pandemic, the shooting of intimate scenes has become a real headache. Fortunately help is at hand from the professional association Directors UK, which has come out with a series of guidelines for the shooting of intimate scenes. The 12-page document, which is available online, details a range of options that will enable directors to continue shooting while minimizing risks of contagion. One of them is casting real-life couples of actors, or asking real-life partners to stand in as body doubles for particular shots, although the authors of the report admit that this may not be the best creative choice for a film, especially if the partners in question are not performers themselves.
Could sex be censored?
The report encourages directors to embrace creative strategies that suggest rather than show intimacy between characters. For example page eight of the document points out: "You could depict the closing of a bedroom door and leave the action to the viewer's imagination. Entitled "Intimacy in the Time of COVID-19 - Directing Nudity and Simulated Sex," the report also proposes narrative alternatives to sex scenes: "Instead of depicting the intimate scene, have characters say what they will do to each other (which would also easily allow for the inclusion of dialogue to do with consent)." Then there are more technical solutions: "Use angles to 'sell' proximity."
Finally, the document even advocates turning for inspiration to classic films like "Casablanca" by Michael Curtiz, in which intimate scenes would have likely been censored: "Be innovative and come up with new ways to convey sexual desire or intimacy without resorting to conventional tropes. You may even find inspiration by revisiting classic films such as 'It Happened One Night' (1934) or 'Casablanca' (1943) – some of the greatest screen romances ever made and all filmed under the Hays Code, which prohibited the depiction of sex on screen."