Screenwriting : Would you consider "live" sex in your movie? by Chanel Ashley

Chanel Ashley

Would you consider "live" sex in your movie?

I recently discussed a sex scene/simulated sex with actors and asked how they would approach such a scene - to my surprise, a few suggested they would consider "live" sex, as in not simulated, if it were a script that appealed - they seemed comfortable with that scenario - WOULD YOU FILM SUCH A SCENE, OR INSIST IT IS SIMULATED and, has anyone been involved shooting that kind of scene, outside porn, of course.

Tim Prescott

I'd be pretty uncomfortable with it . I'd have trouble using actors that way and I'm surprised if they'd consider it and I know some successful films have been made with live sex but to my mind unless the film is about sex, unless live is so important to the story I really think I'd avoid it

Chanel Ashley

I'm actually in two minds, myself - I wrote the scene for a short film and it will be a closed set, I'm comfortable either way, but it took me by surprise - you're right, quite a few mainstream films are famous for such scenes.

Brian Shell

I remember reading a quote by an Oscar-winning actor regarding such scenes... and he apparently comes and speaks quite bluntly with the actress and says, "I don't know if I will be excited or if I won't. Either way, don't get offended." It's a very professional way to handle the situation when you know you'll have an entire film crew surrounding you while doing the scene.

Chanel Ashley

Would that be Jack Nicholson, perchance, I've read he's not averse to "live" scenes.

Dave McCrea

Wow in Australia actors'll do anything for a part I guess :)

Danny Manus

I saw a film, Nine Songs by Michael winterbotttom who is a pretty major director. it played at Sundance years ago and had real sex. Many walked out. The actors were lauded for being so brave....then neither of them ever worked again. Don't forget Brown Bunny either.

Bill Hartin

Thanks for your serendipitous and timely comments, since I am facing a similar, parallel issue for my erotic thriller. The shot would be very brief, more of an establishing shot, really, between a serial killer and his first victim, but eventually I will have to decide - graphically literal or implied.

Lisa Clemens

I'd write it as you like and let the director and producers decide. They'll have the final say anyway!

Arman Hovsepian

I don't know how it works in Australia, but in the U.S. it's illegal to have live sex on a film set. Studios will never allow it because they don't want a lawsuit

Kamala Lane

I wouldn't consider it. (not knocking anyone who would, though.) I think a real indicator of your craft is how real you can make everything look without it being the real thing. Great actors make us believe that they are the character even though it's fictitious. I've seen sex scenes that were passionate and sexy due to the actors and the direction. If you can pull that off without the actors doing it for real, then that's mastering the craft.

Ingrid Abrams

That's requiring a bit too much from your actors/actresses, especially if it's not a porno flick. Some of the best love scenes ever of all time, did nit show the actual act. The audience is not stupid, they get that these two people are having sex.

William Martell

Never. Here's why: on a film set, there's already enough tensions and personal conflicts without adding some sort of relationship to the mix. Though there are a couple of films where sex scenes did include some actual sex (supposedly DON'T LOOK NOW) but as someone who has written a bunch of films with sex scenes, not a single one of mine ever had any real sex. It was all acting, which is what actors do. They pretend. A movie sex scene has "patches" and "socks" worn by the participants, and what's always amusing to me is that these items are sold in film supply stores. You can buy a roll of opal gel and a cock sock in the same store. The other problem is that real sex will not look as real on film as acting sex... just as improv dialogue is always first draft crappy dialogue and never sounds real. What looks great on camera is not what works in real life. You want something that is visually stimulating to the audience, and that is often not very stimulating at all to the actors. If you really want to film people having sex, there's a huge billion dollar industry in the San Fernando Valley which specializes in that...

Chanel Ashley

The scene I wrote had the bed sheet to their waist, you might see a breast or two and perhaps a bottom, so any "funny" business literally happened between the sheets - so to a degree, there was an element of discretion, unlike two naked people on a sheetless bed with gay abandon, so to speak - what I intended was not graphic.

Brian Shell

@Chanel... nope, wasn't Jack Nicholson, and I don't believe it'd be right to name names on my earlier post (even though his approach to this was 100% top-shelf, in my humble opinion)... since this is a pretty sensitive topic... and I read it years ago, so I wouldn't want to misquote him. Though for what it's worth, I don't think he ever implied the sex being literal (or actual) in any way.

Chanel Ashley

William,. not sure about NEVER - sure, on a big Hollywood production, perhaps never, and DON'Y LOOK NOW is probably the most famous example, though I read the same for FIVE EASY PIECES - small production, actors consent, perhaps discreet, don't know, never been in that environment, but I could see how it might work in certain circumstances - if it was my film, I would not advertise the sex was "real", I can see why that may detract, but keep it in-house.

Anton West

I would not write a sex scene with the pre-formed intention of it being shot as live sex. That would be up to the director in discussion with the actors. Personally I can't see why it should be necessary. After all we don't ask actors to actually die on-screen do we? Or really get injured/shot/stabbed? So why real sex? There's a limit as to how much close-up action you'd be able to show on-screen anyway so it might as well be simulated.

Chanel Ashley

You look good on a bike, Boomer, bet it's a good life.

Chanel Ashley

You're starting to worry, me, Emily.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Never. Less is always more. Can you say gratuitous? Perhaps your film should move into a different industry. The sex scenes in the great movie "Boogie Nights" were all acted and featured fake body parts. How sex scenes are orchestrated are at the discretion of the director and the actors. Those scenes should only be present or be relevant if they move the story forward or serve the plot.

Jeff Jennings

Beth brings up very good points. I would leave some of it up to the imagination of the audience.

Dirk Van Den Berg

As a writer or co-writer, you should NEVER even think about how to "do" a thing like this. If your story needs a sex scene, if it makes sense dramaturgically, put it in. Period. But that was not your question, I am responding more to what others said here. A propos, when you browse the answers to your post keep in mind that Americans tend to have a VERY different approach to anything sexual (in real life, on TV, in the movies) than Europeans. Americans are much more prude when it comes to sex but don't think twice about violence and blood, whereas with Europeans it's the exact opposite (yes, I realize I am generalizing and simplifying). Google French director Catherine Breillat and read about how she does the sex scenes in her films. Some of those scenes made her and her films world famous for being so "natural". More than once she and her actors declared that OF COURSE it was life sex, that it HAD TO BE life sex. And her actors continued to work even after they did it. Ask Abdellatif Kechiche, the director and the actors of "Blue is warmest color" (in the Cannes lineup) and after cutting through all the polemics and discussions exploited by the tabloids you will find they couldn't have made the film without life sex. Period. In my personal experience as a director or producer most actors I've worked with prepare even kissing scenes in a "special way". More than once - and from both female and male actors - I was told that "we have to establish a 'game' between us, otherwise it doesn't work, neither for us doing it nor for you on screen". If you work close enough with your talent you will eventually establish how to do this together with them. Just don't force it, ever, in neither direction. As for all things, I guess there is no overall rule for this. It will always depend on the relationship between director and actors, and most of all of the actors themselves. But as a writer or storyteller you should not even bother thinking about it when you build your story. If a scene makes sense within the dramaturgic arch of your story, go for it. If the actors are good "prentending", go for it. But don't INSIST (you use that word in your question) it "must" be life. (IMHO don't ever INSIST on anything, it will always feel forced. If your talent is not convinced, something is wrong with or your cast, or the relation between them and you as the director, or - worst - your script. Or all of the above). But if they want to do it life, be smart and do not forbid it.

Chanel Ashley

I agree, compared to the Europeans, and Australians, the Americans tend as a rule to be more puritanical re sex scenes, yet have no qualms with excessive violence - the original question was would you allow consensual sex between your actors, certainly not force nor coerce.

William Martell

Which is why the largest porn industry in the world is in America...

Chanel Ashley

Spot on, William.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Again, it's about the story and story only. Most sex scenes are truly gratuitous. Unless the world in which the story takes place does call for such truism. This has absolutely nothing to do with personal opinions/feelings about sex -- whether one is from America, Australia, Europe or wherever. As a writer, it is not my place to give direction to the director nor to the actors. My place is to be responsible to the story. We are servants to our stories and not to ourselves. We must be willing to write what the story requires and not what we personally want or prefer. Ask yourself, does this sex scene serve the story or am I interjecting my need to be "shocking" and exhibitionistic? Is it more important for it to be known to the audience that my characters are having sex or that it be shown? When sex scenes do not ring true within a story or for its characters it is blatantly clear. We have grown desensitised to seeing sex in film. If it has no emotional reason for being there then it is boring and redundant.

Shaun O'Banion

The quote, in essence, "if something happens, I apologize... If nothing happens, I apologize," was Denzel Washington, I believe. It wasn't referring to him actually having sex on camera, so I'm not sure why it would be out of line to attribute the quote - the specific reference was in regard to the simple fact that, regardless of setting, a man may (or may not) become aroused when simulating a romantic encounter, and was meant to make the other actor (a woman, in this case) comfortable in either event. In other words, "if I become aroused, please don't be upset, and if I don't, please don't take offense... it doesn't mean I don't find you attractive." As a man, it covers all the bases. As for sex being real? I don't see the need. For one thing, you're going to be shooting the scene, in all likelihood, for hours, and there will be any number of technical requirements during the course of that time. It's called acting for a reason. For another, it's going to add a level of discomfort to something that is already generally uncomfortable for cast and crew. No, I'd thank the actors for their commitment, and politely decline.

Chip Street

If you haven't seen Shortbus by John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) you might want to at least research it if not see it. The behind the scenes of how the production evolved and how the actors participated in bringing it to the screen is pretty fascinating. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0367027/

Eoin O'Sullivan

Would you consider live murder or simulated murder? Are they actors or porn stars, seems like the latter.

Chanel Ashley

I think it is significant whether it's America, Australia or Europe - sex, in Europe is perceived as "sensual" and this is reflected in their films/culture, in America it is more "sexy" and this also is reflected in your films/culture, not to mention porn - sexy and sensual is not the same thing, and I prefer the latter - why is it about the story and story only, whether sex scenes or any other movie - is Transformers about story? There are many films that may be a visual feast/style,commentary, it's not always about story, though of course, they generally are - I respect your comments re "serve" the story, etc., but not all of us apply your rules - was Sharon Stone crossing her legs and displaying pubic hair "exhibitionistic? Was it necessary to shoot that scene in that manner? Could it have been inferred? Probably, but I love that scene, pure movie magic, the sheer gall that they would attempt that on American cinema, love it.

Chanel Ashley

I'm astounded how many people have applied examples of "live" or "simulated", such as murder or a fight scene, hardly the same thing surely - I would never criticise an actor/director/writer as to their choice whether the sex scene is live/simulated, it's up to them, all we can truly comment on is our personal preference as to "how" we would choose to shoot that scene/s.

Chanel Ashley

I must agree on this occasion, Alle, Australia used to make some great local fare, loved those early "exploitation" films made only how Australians knew how to make them, they were sexy AND sensual - sadly, when the 10BA tax investment scheme went, so did the industry - talk about the good ol' days.

Nic Penrake

Having directed a few sex scenes in my films, I'd have to say the main problem you're up against regards 'real' sex is the actors won't do it. Many actresses won't even do nude. With TV like Games of Thrones pushing the boundaries I think more and more women will 'go there' in the future, but it still seems a way off. For most women, it's simply porn or 'bad for their careers'. I think if done well, as in Ang Lee's film Lust Caution it can be both erotic and totally relevant and very beautiful to watch, a long way from porn. I also think English actresses are less likely to explore this side of acting than most of the rest of the world. Wherever you're from, as a director, you need to establish a LOT of trust with an actress before going for real sex. Because if it goes wrong, she - and maybe he - will walk. And then whadda you got? Coitus interruptus for your entire film!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Chanel, the Sharon Stone leg cross scene in "Basic Instinct" was not exhibitionistic. Nor was it "live" sex. That scene did serve the story, was extremely relevant and was well done and well acted. It was key to establishing the character. Here we have a woman being interrogated by a room full of male detectives. They are attempting to intimidate her when she is the one in complete control of them. Great scene about power.

Geoff Webb

Unless you are the director it won't be your decision. Focus on how you want the scene to look/feel like and leave the 'how' to the director :-)

Mike Colonna

Maybe live sex between two hippos on National Geographic, but leaving to your imagination is more interesting. Plenty of sex videos on internet. At least that's what I've heard. ?????

Jean-Marie Mazaleyrat

Hello Channel, The hottest (non porn) movies I ever watched are Basic Instinct and Showgirls, both American movies by Dutchman Paul Verhoeven. IMHO, "if" there were no live sex scenes in these movies, maybe these are not needed anywhere. Don't worry for 9 Songs actors, they are well and alive and yet on stage today. The only thing is... I wouldn't like to be the actors when they join their partners after the shooting unless wearing a helmet. @ Eoin: Inanity. If you have to show somebody driving a car, would you consider live driving or simulated driving? Murdering is not sex. Nothing to do with. I' wouldn't consider live murderer AND I would consider live sex.

Eoin O'Sullivan

Hi Jean, Driving is often shot in a towed car against a green screen . . . The point about using a comparison like murder, is to show how ridiculous the suggestion of 'live' sex is. Why is 'live' sex needed? It isn't. It's pretentious artistic BS or some psychological need that the actors and/or director need to satisfy. It's acting, so act. Films like Blue is the Warmest Colour and Shortbus are run of the mill stories - it looks like a marketing plot to elevate themselves above the crowd by telling everyone how the actors really had sex. Who cares. The story is what matters.

Chanel Ashley

Jean-Marie, Basic Instinct is one of my favourite films, I also enjoyed Showgirls, not as bad as everyone made out, yes, Paul Verhoeven is excellent, also loved Robocop, Total Recall and after even Starship Troopers - I agree, live driving would hardly compare to live sex, lol.

Demiurgic Endeavors

I think you're getting diverse well thought out commentary due to the fact you're a female director. If a male director stated the same question he would be instantly chided. Every movie has a hook. If that's your hook go for it. The movie "KIDS" had simulated sex scenes between teenagers and pre-teens, filmed in the USA. And I may be wrong but the very last scene might have been a live sex scene.

Graham Giddy

Two loves of my life, pop corn movies and foreign films. In many European films live sex is the norm with some films promoting this with a warning. Only worrying point with this practice, does this take the acting out of the actors. Everyone knows your acting during sex to impress your partner, but stimulating sex for the screen, that is an art.

William Martell

It's a zombie movie...

Chanel Ashley

I must agree, Alle, Europeans are more comfortable with sex scenes, the Americans, in particular, are inhibited - I think it was William that made the point about the largest porn industry in the world is in America.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Hey Chanel, please listen to this short podcast from Julie Gray: "Writing The Sex Scene." She gives a great point of view from that of a reader and/or an executive. http://www.rswriters.com/#!podcasts/cwid

Chanel Ashley

Thanks, Beth, I listened to it and she had some good/interesting things to say - but the issue is "shooting" the sex scene, not "writing" the sex scene - I see no reason why a script should include sex scenes describing every stroke/angle/penetration - now filming such, is a different story - I also liked her comments re the first five pages.

Phil Keys

I found it very hard writing the sex scene in my script "The King's Revenge" but what was even harder was writing the rape scene towards the end. The thing is like all good scenes it's not what you put in. (pun not intended) but what you leave to the imagination that makes the scene

Jean-Marie Mazaleyrat

Hello Channel, Looking at how we write, I notice we describe things as if these were true: - a killing scene like a real killing, - a car driving scene like real car driving, - a sex scene like real sex… - a zombie or vampire scene like a real zombie or vampire scene (funny isn't it?) - a sex and killing scene like real sex and killing (e.g. Basic Instinct) - a sex and car driving… - a zombie sex scene... uh... etc. We are the reporters of the fictional news. This is our greatest (and unique) privilege to create the story as we like it, with all the detail we want, close to reality or not and without self-censorship. If your story is great and your sex scene required (1), it will be in the movie just like you wrote it; and either it is shot as a real sex scene or not, it will be the truth for the audience. IMHO, this is just a challenge for the shooting team and that might be funny to see how your director and actors will fix the problem (2). (1) + (2) = two good reasons to put it in your script isn't it?

Darrel Ray

I would consider sex in my movie because some of the content may require it with out showing the actual act of it. The act would be like a soap opera sex scene.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Hey Chanel, thanks for listening to the podcast. Yes, I know it was more about "writing" and not so much about "shooting" sex scenes. However, the part I thought that was relevant to this discussion was when she talked about sex scenes serving the story. That they should establish some kind of truth about the characters and that they should match the tone of the film. These are things all directors consider, yes? She pointed out that the use of a graphic sex generally serves the ego of the creator more so then the story; the need to be "shocking" can also translate as "amatuer." She also gave a pretty good list of films where sex was extremely relevant to the story and that each film featured great sex scenes. Anyway, you already know I'm in complete agreement with Julie Gray. Nonetheless, I thought it was just good "food for thought." :) Best wishes to you!

Chanel Ashley

No offense, Phil, but you sound a little stilted, staid and perhaps read one book too-many on what one "should" do - "why" what you leave to the imagination that makes the scene - BS - while it may be true in many scenes, no argument from me, but don't make it appear a fait accompli, a given, the obvious option, set in-concrete, crap, it isn't.

Chanel Ashley

"Sex scenes serving the story" - "establish some kind of truth about the characters" - relax, beth, it's only a movie - some filmmakers will take themselves very seriously, for some this is "art" - for others, they include sex scenes because they enjoy sex scenes, for the fun-of-it, for-the-hell-of-it, to serve their ego, vanity, to titillate, because it turns them/audience on, or just because they can - does it matter? Should we care? Writers/directors/producers should create whatever they wish, the audience will determine the ultimate fate - Russ Meyer found his audience, do we denigrate his work because it may not be to one's taste - like it or not, he is deemed a filmmaker.

Chanel Ashley

Julia Gray offers sound advise, good "food for thought" - stick with her methods and you will never be accused of breaking the rules, being different or groundbreaking - there are, of course, filmmakers that like to push the boundaries - there is room for all types of filmmakers, you simply determine which camp you prefer to have your foot in.

Phil Keys

Only my opinion and my point is do you think Alfred Hitchciock would be still remembered if he directed slash movies?

Chanel Ashley

Alfred Hitchcock is an excellent example of the point you were making, Phil, he was a master at leaving much to the imagination, and you are correct, in the right hands, it can be great - but the point I was trying to make is that there are many ways/methods that can be exercised, "leaving it to the imagination" is one of them, sorry if I appeared to put your opinion down, all I meant was that we agree to disagree - Hitchcock today, without the constraints of his era, would have made very different films - I don't think he would have been as good today if you removed all the constraints he had to work within, but a great film director.

Robin Chappell

Even with the "live sex" in von Triers "Nymphomania" the "live sex" was done with porn players and the A-listers heads were placed on the real participants. There is no such thing as "real sex" on just about any movie outside of Porn. There are always cups and such even on a "closed set." And yes, I have written several sex scenes (meant to be not graphic in nature. Suggested coupling only.

Chanel Ashley

I don't think you are correct re the von Triers film, I'm certain no A-list heads were placed on participants - as is often stated, European filmmakers are not as inhibited as American filmmakers re sex scenes, but from what I have read there is more "live" sex in American movies than acknowledged.

Brian Steinmetz

Sex scenes can be a tough sell in America. But let's not forget Halle Berry's brave performance in "Monster's Ball".

Chanel Ashley

I didn't see the movie, brave in what sense re Monster's ball?

Brian Steinmetz

the sex scene

Chanel Ashley

You have me intrigued, I'll have a look, thanks.

Demiurgic Endeavors

Halle Berry's scene in Monster's Ball was violent not graphic. It was an hard Rated-R film. The two films that stand out the most specifically for their live sex scenes are The Brown Bunny and Battle in Heaven. Both films were ultimately crap. The sex was explicit and far from arousing. Two many directors go the clinical route when filming live sex scenes. Even though I didn't personally find the sex scenes in Requiem for a Dream overly explicit. They did serve the overall weirdness of the story. Either the explicit scene will work or it won't. It can be as out of place as the last scene in Battle in Heaven. Only in the movies can a 400 pound 51 year old man have sex with a 20 year old supermodel female.

Brian Steinmetz

Demiurgic-- Halle Berry's scene in Monster's Ball wasn't violent... Not sure where you got that. But it was very graphic. Are we talking about the same movie and scene? Because the one I'm thinking of is all about very realistic sex.

Kamala Lane

Yes Halle and Billy Bob Thornton's scene was so primal. I don't think there was much direction. They went crazy without actually doing it and it worked.

Jen Govey

It's called acting for a reason! If you want to make porn, make porn. If you want to document reality, document it, if you want to make movies, make movies with actors, but from my experience actors can be pretty vulnerable to exploitation and this would set an expectation which would essentially be abusive in nature and disrespectful of the craft. Are your actors just unable to 'act' in a sex scene? It does take some talent and understanding of film-making to do it well on screen. From a technical point of view there is a lot to think about for an actor to get the best shot and be in control of their performance and character, real sex would be far too distracting (unless they are also crap at real sex, of course!) and unlikely to get a consistent performance across different takes and if an actor can't 'pretend' to have great screen sex and would rather do it for real, they are probably not a very good actor in the first place and/or a bit of an attention-seeking perv, which also makes them more vulnerable to exploitation. It's a professional place of work and integrity is important in what can be a bit of a shady industry at times. I mean, what's next, live ammunition in guns and start shooting actors for real so it's more 'realistic' if someone gets shot as it's not simulated? lol In film-making, less is more and what we don't see can mean more and connect more with a wider audience as the imagination is a powerful thing. Hitchcock and Ridley Scott both use 'what you don't see' to great effect. It's powerful stuff and is often more rewarding in the brain. There is plenty of porn out there, we're not exactly short of it in the world, but we are short on meaningful content that doesn't rely on shock or hype to sell entertainment. I personally find 'on the nose' film-making a bit dull. Reality is all around us, cinema takes us to the next level. :)

Darrel Ray

This is a very interesting theory. Doesn't fall in the mind of the beholder, or point of view to sell the roll either way.

William Martell

In mt experience the most rehearsed scenes seem the most spontaneous... for the same reason that improv seldom works on screen because you can see the actors thinking of what they should say or do next and in real life we just say it or do it. The improv stuff always ends up in the DVD outtakes. Improv on film is usually rehearsed, they improv until they find the scene, then rehearse the scene they have found to work the bugs out, then film it.

Anton West

Mike Leigh is the master of 'improv' films. That's exactly the method he uses. 99% of the time it really works. I love his films.

Brian Steinmetz

I just saw Lars von Trier's Nymphomania Vol. 1 and it certainly seems as though there's live sex in that... He even does a porno-angle on Shia LeBeouf's taint as he penetrates a girl.

Kamala Lane

The buzz around Nymphomaniac was that live sex indeed was performed by body doubles and not the stars of the movie.

Alicia M. Gaspar

It's never purely real anyway, but for certain shots they could go real about it for a bit, then fake it.

Darrel Ray

That is so real.

Chanel Ashley

Mm, I might have to see some of these films.

Darrel Ray

I will have one that will be a must see, coming soon

Chanel Ashley

We shall see your must see, then, how soon is coming soon, or is that a pun.

Darrel Ray

It could be a pun, But surprises do happen that shocks everyone.

Stuart Land

This is what I got out of reading 82 comments. From one side: Americans are repressed, Europeans are sexually mature. Showing your boobs on a rock-strewn beach in Cannes is not the same as being sexually liberated. It's about exhibitionism. (Living outside the US for last fifteen years, I can't tell you how many times a week I hear Europeans bash America for one thing or another, as if nothing horrendous ever happened in the last hundred years of European history.) From one side: Good film is about acting, craft, story, characters, mystery, the human condition. The other side: Ultimate film is about doing anything you want. As for the OP's original question, no matter which camp of film you belong to, unless the "anything goes" applies to every position above and below the line, then the director has the right and is the only one who can insist on anything (I'm talking legally and common sense here) in the making of a film. Yes there is room to make any kind of film imaginable, I don't think anyone questions that. Quality is in the eye of the beholder. Pearls cast before... No accounting for taste. Etc.

Chanel Ashley

I get the impression you didn't get much from reading the initial 82 comments - I don't think Europeans are confused between being sexually liberated and exhibitionists - I do agree Europeans do bash America for one thing or another, considering Europeans got plenty wrong and perhaps not in a position to be casting stones - but back to film, from what I can gather, Americans are less comfortable with sex on screen than Europeans, but when it comes to violent content, win hands down.

Darrel Ray

It all comes down to the perspective one ones person and their outlook on the topic involving will sexual filming.

Chanel Ashley

To a degree, yes, it comes down to one's perspective, but the divide between sex in cinema re the Europeans and the Americans I think is a reality, not a perspective - I'm not suggesting one is superior to the other, simply that there is a constant reality as to how Europeans/Americans approach their sex scenes - as mentioned before, Europe tends to be sensual as opposed to sexy in the USA.

Darrel Ray

Isn't true that both have a emotional element weather it be here or there that sells the scene? It is true what you are saying, but there are active intercourse and there is fake dead fucks as well.

Darrel Ray

Even though there are two interpretations as you have displayed. There can only be one outcome for each in a variety of was.

Graham Giddy

The first time I joined this conversation I mentioned the French, take it all back, watched a Japanese film from either the late sixties or seventies last week nearly sliding off the chair and it received a R rating here in Aust; It was once banned here but so too was the original King Kong briefly in the fifties

Leanne Campbell

It's not actually legal to film any 'live' sex scenes in Australia except in Canberra as it is considered Porn. So no I would not consider live sex in a movie I was shooting ever, unless it was story relevant and there was no other way.

Graham Giddy

I can remember a big budget porn being filmed on Seventy mile beach in early nineteen nineties, I also agree with your comment, about to script the Golden Malaita Eagle which has a few romps in it with an Indiana Jones feeling about it towards the finish

Chanel Ashley

I think you're correct, Leanne, Canberra may be the only place it would be legal, pity it's so damn cold, there.

Graham Giddy

Yes in away you are right, today how ever the market share for that in Canberra is similar to a likeable politician. If a film maker wants to make a porn anywhere in Australia he can use the easiest loop hole, he makes the movie, tries to get it classified, ends up with a RC which means refused, doesn't matter he has spent the grant money and in theory hasn't broken the law providing everyone is over eighteen. then off to the porn distributors with a saleable product.

Chanel Ashley

Hey, Graham, you're giving me ideas.

Richard Sosa

Regardless of whether it is live or simulated, it is tricky to shoot for people on both sides of the camera. Naturally, live sex will elicit a more natural response from your scene partner, and unless you are going to be extremely graphic, the audience doesn't have to see it happen. They just need to "feel" like it happened. If you get the chance to watch Blue Is The Warmest Color, you will see what I mean. Well...maybe take it down just a notch in the way it's shot. :-)

Richard "RB" Botto

Be sure to check out the weekend blog today for a couple of articles/videos on filming sex scenes. First 2 articles under Entertainment News.

Darrel Ray

I checked it out and it appears to be very interesting. Could this be converted and formatted into a full feature film content?

Chanel Ashley

I agree mostly with Richard Sosa - the scene doesn't have to be graphic and the audience doesn't have to see it happen - I agree that live sex would elicit a more natural response from the screen partner - it can be accomplished tastefully.

Cherie Grant

Why does screen sex have to be tasteful? Since when is sex tasteful? I love seeing explicit and dirty/hilarious/distasteful sex. It's real and raw and funny and sometimes a turn on. Screw tasteful boring stepford housewives screwing banker husband sex scenes. What a snooze fest. I want to be entertained. Tittilate me.

Chanel Ashley

Hey, Cherie, how come we're home on a Saturday night, lol? - Tasteful is probably not the right word - I meant that it isn't necessary to show the actual "act" live on the screen, but their actual expressions/emotions displayed on screen would be interesting - I think all that made sense, lol - yeah, like you, I don't mind some of the rough/dirty stuff, I have no aversion to a turn-on/entertainment - maybe I should check out Blue is the Warmest Color.

CJ Walley

HBO's Girls is my favourite show for sex scenes, they are way more genuine and contemporary than the aspirational fantasy love making you tend to get in movies.

Chanel Ashley

You're a man of good taste, CJ, I have a soft spot for Game of Thrones - sexy, violent, brutal, my kind of family entertainment, LOL.

CJ Walley

Well I'm not saying it's to my taste as such. Just that's it's an unforgiving and realistic portrayal of what sex has become for the younger generations. While it is quite graphic, what's really hard hitting is how modern sex is having such a negative emotional impact on young people.

Richard Sosa

I think sex is having a negative emotional impact on today's youth because it's being rammed down their throat (no pun intended) at such an early age. Long before they're mature enough to process the information effectively. But getting back to the original question, I think each film needs to handled individually. Your main concern needs to be your target demographic regardless of how titillating some people tell you it should be. ;-)

Chanel Ashley

Not sure I agree with you, Richard - sure, they're more sexually aware at a younger age, but not convinced that's a negative - for many generations sex/teenagers was an awkward period, it appears less awkward from what I can see - perhaps they are exposed to porn at an early stage, it's easy enough to access, and much of the mystery/mystique of sex has diminished - I find very few movies have sex scenes that interest me, too many are coy - yet, pay tv seems to have all the good stuff.

Chanel Ashley

I agree re visual symbols and metaphors could be used, that's only one avenue/devise which I enjoy, but I have no aversion to graphic or explicit, either - but it also depends on who made the film - I love the way Basic Instinct explored these scenes, but usually prefer the way Europeans shoot sex scenes - I've mentioned before, Americans understand "sexy" - but the Europeans understand "sensual" - I prefer the latter - would I film such a scene? - Mm, if the actors suggested they were comfortable to engage in that form of "acting", I'd go with it - that doesn't mean the audience will witness actual intercourse on the screen, I'm not talking pornography, but the body language would be interesting.

Jean-Marie Mazaleyrat

Happy New Year!

Kenneth David Swenson

It depends on the circumstances; I write in the Gothic genre and it would be paint drying boring to write something passionless. Live vs simulated; if the actors didn't mind, I suppose that would be okay. Half the battle in filming those scenes is getting over the hurdle of having two people who have not really met being convincingly intimate with each other.

Chanel Ashley

Cock puppets and vag pads? I don't agree with your "no real sex going on… ever!" There are too many examples of where they "did" get it on.

Kenneth David Swenson

It's rather interesting if you Google search "cock puppets" what you come up with, so I know I'm unclear as to what context she was referring to. And okay I'm sort of a newbie here, so I'm not 100 percent up on the dynamics here, but I'm learning. Just allow me to say that I find it interesting the definition between something being "porn" as opposed to "movie sex" is whether or not it's real sex or not.

Chanel Ashley

Some actors may have engaged in "real" sex as opposed to simulated, but we wouldn't know the difference in mainstream cinema as it wouldn't be shown, so I'm not certain how it can be defined as "porn" - and welcome, Ken.

Chanel Ashley

Cock socks, lol, it gets better all the time - I have Googled "real sex in movies" - I agree re body doubles, but that would still constitute "real" sex, wouldn't it, Lisa?

Amanda Toney

Hi Everyone, please keep in mind the language you use on Stage 32. No need for vulgarity.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Lisa, regardless, let's keep it clean. The Stage 32 folks that run this site would appreciate it. :)

Chanel Ashley

Yes, Lisa, let's keep it clean, there is no room for vulgarity on this site, proper etiquette and standards must be maintained at all times, it is inappropriate to risk upsetting other members of this site with inappropriate language, which is ironic considering the language some screenwriters use in their scripts and filmmakers use in their films - I'm with Beth, the Stage 32 folks would appreciate, it.

Christopher Binder

There are non-pornographic films that have un-simulated sex in them. In the Realm of the Senses first comes to mind in that regard, but an intention of that film was to blur the line between "art" and "pornography", so I guess it depends on whether or not it's validated by whatever statement you are trying to make by doing it (no pun intended) un-simulated.

Kamala Lane

Blue is the Warmest Color (2013) also uses non- simulated sex. The scene was way too porny for me, but I still liked the film.

Christopher Binder

It was simulated. They used prosthetic vaginas.

Kamala Lane

Ah!

Chanel Ashley

It's not that I would doubt, you, Chris, but I find that difficult to believe - prosthetic vaginas?

Christopher Binder

It's the 19th question from the bottom of the interview (and a few more before that one). http://www.divamag.co.uk/category/arts-entertainment/adele-exarchopoulos...

Chanel Ashley

Thanks, Chris, I must say, I'm astonished, would never have believed, it.

Kenneth David Swenson

@Chanel thanks to Google...it's also used for transgender....

Chanel Ashley

Well, who said this site wasn't educational, lol.

Billy Dominick

If it was important to the story, go ahead and include the scene but leave the details on how to do it up to the producer. Most seem to want the lowest possible rating to get more people in the theatre.

Chanel Ashley

When i initiated this thread, it was more a case of the actors initiating non simulated sex, not so much whether it was important to the story nor whether the director asked for it - I presume, not being an actor/actress, that it may be possible for the people indulging in a sex scene may "forget" themselves and get "carried" away by the moment and engage in "actual" intercourse - they may be partially covered by a sheet so you're not filming porn, no one will "see" anything, the actors will no longer be acting, would you allow this to continue or put a stop to it?

Kenneth David Swenson

again...up to the actors.

Kenneth David Swenson

Although pulling back from my dating experiences; fortunately or unfortunately, I've known some women who were actors without being actors when it came to that sort of thing.

Billy Dominick

I wouldn't stop it but don't see how anyone could get carried away with all of the socks and barriers in place. I believe in the movie Summer of Love there was no sex scene originally. It was reconsidered and shot with the actresses expected to plan out the scene themselves.

Chanel Ashley

Presume there are no socks and barriers, it's easy to see how the scene could become a little "lively".

Billy Dominick

If you want it to be real, then discuss it with your actors and see what happens.

Kenneth David Swenson

Two points: 1) Live does not mean not protected. 2) I guess it sort of depends on what your looking for. If you're looking for passionate sex indicative of a loving and caring relationship of long duration then it probably won't able to be depicted on screen without a little "acting". If your looking for just two people enjoying themselves; then let the actors decide what is most comfortable for them and roll with it.

Chanel Ashley

Yes, your last sentence is what initiated this thread, the actors deciding themselves to include penetration while "acting" or actors getting caught up in the moment where one thing leads to another that eventuates in penetration - no coercion, no pressure, only consensual, an understanding between the actors involved - direction from the director for the actors to initiate penetration is a different question.

Billy Dominick

At least Lisa didn't point out that in most real productions, such scenes are done on a closed set where producers/writers aren't allowed to be voyeurs. I guess you could if you were also the financial backer of such a production but I don't see it happening.

Chanel Ashley

Lisa, while you can't believe this thread is still alive, I can't believe you keep spruiking as an authority on the subject matter - I don't doubt for a moment that you have seen none of this take place in your experience, but we are not discussing your experience - Google the subject matter and a whole host of film titles are named where unsimulated sex has occurred - there is a plethora of titles and actors involved, even the dates of when the work is released - are you truly so naive as to think that in a century of filmmaking that "real" sex has never, and does not, occur? I don't wish to be disrespectful, but you keep repeating what I and many others believe to be true - can you also explain how it came to be you are such an authority, I am open minded enough to hear an alternate rationale.

Anthony Cawood

A list of movies, that are not porn, but do feature unsimulated sex scenes can be found here - http://www.buzzfeed.com/louispeitzman/movies-with-unsimulated-sex#.mm2ao... Perhaps Lisa means no Hollywood movies, as these are almost exclsuively Arthouse and/or non US films... that of course doesn't mean they are not artistically valid movies, some of them on the list are excellent.

Leon Reaper

If any actresses need to practice live sex scenes, I will be glad to volunteer.

Leon Reaper

No need to thank me for helping

Chanel Ashley

I shall presume Lisa is aware that filmmaking extends beyond Hollywood, no one mentioned parameters such as excluding foreign and art house films, they suddenly count? Many famous actors in Caligula, that movie doesn't count - again, in the history of filmmaking in the USA, is someone seriously suggesting "real" sex has never transpired between actors in a mainstream film?

Chanel Ashley

Haha, good one, Leon, someone was always going to say it, it might as well be you - now someone will complain poor taste and vulgarity, lol.

Leon Reaper

well Chanel it was a hard decision, but after some heavy thought for about 5 seconds, I knew it was the right and kindest thing to do.

Leon Reaper

XD

Chanel Ashley

I admire benevolence and great sacrifice, you're full of it, lol.

Billy Dominick

as far as some board not rating it why do they need to be told that it's for real instead of fake.

Mark Ratering

My latest script I have live sex but cover up with sheets.

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