Hollywood Actors Union Lays Down New Rules for Filming Sex Scenes

In what it calls a “landmark” new set of rules and standards, the union that represents Hollywood movie and television actors on Wednesday issues its new protocols governing how nudity and filmed sex scenes—that is, simulated sex scenes for mainstream productions—should be handled on the set.

SAG-AFTRA’s new rules spell out the role and duties of an on-set “intimacy coordinator,” an expert—often also an actor—whose job is to ensure that performers are not required to perform acts that make them feel violated or uncomfortable while filming on-screen sex or nudity.

As AVN.com has reported, the first production known to employ an intimacy coordinator was the HBO series The Deuce, a fictionalized chronicle of the early days in the American adult entertainment industry, from the 1970s to the mid 1980s.

Union President Gabrielle Carteris said that SAG-AFTRA now wants intimacy coordinators employed on any production that includes nudity, sex or similar sensitive content.

“These protocols and guidelines will help to normalize and encourage the use of intimacy coordinators in productions, therefore ensuring the safety and security of SAG-AFTRA members while they work,” she said in a statement, as quoted by IndieWire

Among the new rules and standards, the union wants intimacy coordinators to meet before filming commences with producers, writers and directors to determine in advance how much nudity or simulated sex acts will be required in the production.

They should also interview with actors beforehand, and ensure that consent by all performers is maintained throughout filming, as well as reviewing the final cut of a film or TV show to verify that pre-agreed standards were met.

Alicia Rodis, the pioneering intimacy coordinator on the Deuce set—and co-founder of the group Intimacy Directors International—called the new rules a “home run” for the entertainment industry.

“It is our hope that this process can be widely adopted for an effective and reasonable path for productions to work with a trained intimacy coordinator,” she said in a statement.

Intimacy coordinators will also be responsible for checking the suitability of “physical barriers and modesty garments” used by actors in filming intimate scenes. 

The moviegoing and TV-viewing public is generally unaware that even in nude scenes, actors are not actually nude, frequently covering genital areas and other intimate body parts with flesh-colored garments and similar devices that go unseen by the camera. 

Photo by New Line Cinema Screen Capture