Nudity and simulated sex on stage and screen
Equity Green Room on nudity and simulated sex on stage and screen
Equity held a Green Room event on 31 May 2015 on nudity and simulated sex on stage and screen and how performers could empower themselves. On the panel were actors and Equity members Michael Hurst, Nicole Whippy, Fasitua Amosa, Felicity Josling and Equity vice-president Tandi Wright, with Equity president Jennifer Ward-Lealand in the chair. Their experiences provide a useful guideline for performers on what is acceptable and what is not when asked to do nudity.
The first message was that many American productions are currently filming in New Zealand, and performers are being asked for nudity a lot. It is very important for performers to know their rights and obligations and how to say no and not to be bullied. Performers, together as a group, must effect change and take back our power as people who are integral to the creative process.
Michael Hurst was the producing director on Spartacus and the ‘go-to guy’ for nudity issues. He developed a practice of discussing every nude scene with the relevent performer, writing down the proposed shots and getting the performer’s consent in writing. However this is not standard practice on every production. Ideally, directors should describe the detail of every nude shot to the performer before getting the performer’s consent. Any performer who has consented to nudity must make sure that their agent knows the performer wants a discussion about every nude scene and a summary of agreed scenes in writing.
What not to do:
- The Equity standard contract in New Zealand allows performers to choose whether you will/won’t perform nude or semi-nude scenes. It is the performer’s choice. Do not sign up for full frontal nudity and simulated sex if you are only prepared to go semi-nude. Sometimes you may feel comfortable with semi-nude scenes in the script, but the script can change, or you may only be seeing part of it. Some directors may take your agreement to do full frontal nudity and simulated sex to mean that they can ask for nude scenes that you were not expecting. Be aware that even if you have signed an agreement to do a nude scene, a good director will never force you to do it if you are really unhappy.