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The film industry across the world has been trying to figure out how to work in the middle of a pandemic. What about those celebrity sex scenes?

Celebrity sex scenes will return after COVID-19 with a new twist

The film industry across the world has been trying to figure out how to work in the middle of a pandemic. This is definitely fair as we’re pretty much in uncharted territory here. In order to make sure that everyone on set stays as healthy as possible, there have been filming regulations and restrictions across the board. What about, say, a celebrity sex scene?

Much as we’d like no one to kiss and/or touch until a vaccine is available, it’s just not that realistic in the world of acting. Many television shows are folding in the COVID-19 pandemic into storylines to handle such changes. But it’s not something that can be done across the board. Looking at our friends over in the UK, we can see what will happen in future celebrity sex scenes filmed abroad.

Here’s everything you need to know about the 12-page document from Director’s UK (think the UK’s version of the DGA) about guidelines for future celebrity sex scenes. 

Be prepared

Now the first thing anyone needs to ask is “do I really, really, really need this celebrity sex scene”? Yes, it’s written in the script. But, in terms of plot and character, how needed is it? After all, you can hint at a sex scene more than outright filming it. So if a sex scene can be insinuated over outright filmed, then that’s what you need to do. If it needs to happen, then all parties involved have to consent to it. 

Once everyone involved agrees to the scene, then plan for it as much as possible. Storyboard and block the scene in question along with pushing filming of it until the last minute in case any guidelines change. Also, consider casting real-life couples who don’t need to socially distance from each other. Granted, Directors UK admits that this is a last-ditch event, after all not all couples feel comfortable with a sex scene on camera.

Filming and Set

Obviously, everything on set will need to be sanitized that comes in contact with another actor, such as clothing and body parts. If a scene requires a lot of contact, then consider reworking the scene. Directors UK suggests that directors look back to films from the era of the Hays Code, such as It Happened One Night or Casablanca, for workarounds in filming any scene, but especially a sex scene.

Procedures also need to put in place so that the actors can be clear with the director about what they are and aren’t comfortable doing. They also suggest actors quarantine for two weeks if any scene requires heavy physical contact, though that needs to be talked in depth with the actors to make sure this won’t disrupt their lives or the lives of their family too much.

Narrative and technical suggestions

See if the story can be reworked if the act of sex can be hinted at over the actual showing of a sex scene. Directors UK says that focus on foreplay and dirty talk to lead into an artful fade to black. Or, if the script is more modern, they suggest phone sex or sexting as well. There are ways to suggest sex without actually showing a celebrity sex scene in any case.

On the technical side of things, before any sex scene happens, make sure to take the temperatures of the actors. Also see if there’s a way to have protection, such as masks or PPE’s, off-camera. They ask directors to consider using POV shots or angles to minimize the time that the actors involved have to spend touching each other as well. Finally, consider greenscreen or mo-cap to stitch together a no-contact sex scene.

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