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Love scenes and the audition


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#1 Jake Vander Ark

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Posted 27 May 2008 - 11:44 PM

In my theoretical feature, there is a 20 year old girl who is very sexually experienced. There are 2 love scenes in the film (both "raw", but not graphic) and she is very comfortable with her body.

What sort of things would you look for in an actress during the audition process?

How would you audition a difficult sex scene to make sure they're up for the challenge?

Do you think it's possible for an actor (guy or girl) to realistically portray this sort of character without having a similar background?

This may be an awkward topic, but any ideas?
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#2 Jim Keller

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 01:30 PM

First a few Don'ts:

Don't ask for nudity as part of a first audition. If a body check is needed it should always come at a callback, after the performer has been auditioned as a performer.

Never touch a performer (or allow anyone on your team to do so) in a manner that could be even vaguely construed as sexual as part of the audition process.

Don't let the audition process turn into a spectator event. Only the people who need to see the performer should be in the room.

Don't surprise anyone with the sexuality and nudity. Declare it up front in the breakdown.

What sort of things would you look for in an actress during the audition process?


First of all, make sure it's someone you're going to be comfortable working with, and will be comfortable working with you. If the two of you are immediately comfortable together (I always describe is as feeling like my sister just walked into the room) there's a good bet she's going to be fine to work with. If either you or she are tense, or if she's trying to negotiate her way out of the nudity, she's the wrong choice for the project.

Secondly, and most important, make sure she's right for the character. Don't go for the hottest actress. Don't go for the one most open with her body. Cast the right person for the role just like you would for a non-nudity role.

And, finally, if you're concerned, at a callback do a body check to make sure she's comfortable with the nudity and to be sure that she doesn't have a huge inappropriate tattoo or somesuch. Bear in mind that even the most comfortable actor will be a little out of sorts (some will be tense, some will get silly) at a body check, because unlike when they're acting and they've got the part, they know they're being judged on their body at the body check, and, let's be honest, even the most beautiful woman in the world has her insecurities.

How would you audition a difficult sex scene to make sure they're up for the challenge?


I wouldn't audition the sex scene. That would be very unprofessional. Rather I would do callbacks where I pair actors to see who has chemistry. If you cast the actress first, ask her if she'd be willing to come to the callbacks for her partner to read off them. If you're casting both simultaneously, try to schedule as much overlap as you can and mix up the pairs as much as possible. If the performers have good chemistry, work well together, and are comfortable with one another in an ordinary dialogue scene, there's nothing to worry about in the sex scene.

Do you think it's possible for an actor (guy or girl) to realistically portray this sort of character without having a similar background?


Absolutely! That's why it's called acting!

This may be an awkward topic, but any ideas?


And one final piece of advice: Shoot the nude/sex scenes first. That way if after all this there is a problem, you can recast without losing all the footage you already have in the can.
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#3 Chris Keth

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 09:00 PM

Not to contradict Jim's last piece of advice but I have often seen intimate scenes shot last in a feature schedule, the idea being that the talent in question have now spent a few hundred hours of work time together and are as comfortable together as they are going to be. It's another approach I thought might be mentioned.
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#4 Dan Goulder

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Posted 28 May 2008 - 10:28 PM

Don't go for the hottest actress. Don't go for the one most open with her body.

...and if you're looking for commercial success, you can start by breaking these two rules right off the bat...
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#5 Jake Vander Ark

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 02:37 AM

Jim,

Your initial "don'ts" are all givens... but all of your points were very helpful.

The point about the sister is interesting... I can definitely see that as the sort of relationship that you would want with an actress.

Is a callback for a "body check" standard procedure? I'm assuming it is because you talk about it, but I haven't heard about it before.

Also a good point about the chemistry with other actors...

I also agree with Chris about waiting until the end, but only assuming that everything you said in your post was true. However, if there was a hint of doubt it probably would make sense to shoot at the beginning...

Any other suggestions? I'm posting these questions to get some conversations going in this pathetic graveyard of a "directors corner"... throw your thoughts up here!
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#6 Mark Williams

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 03:23 AM

Not something I have really thought about because a standard making love scene doesnt need to include nudity unless the film hinges on it like indecent proposal and demi moore had a body double to help. I think most actresses accept acting out love making will be a part of the job sooner or later. Perhaps if an actress is required to take all her kit off for a film and have realistic simulated sex then perhaps a porn actress might be the best route. My opinion is for this kind of film the actress would probably have to have incentive like the film really needs this and career wise be a good move. If someone wanted to make a film and it was so bad it needed to use soft porn to sell it and I was an actress I would steer WELL clear. I wouldnt have the gall to ask an actress to go beyond conventional screen love making unless the script made it neccesary. And if the script meant it was then I would expect those applying for the part to be fullly aware of what was expected and I'd ask those attending an audition that if called back a second time would be expected to play out the scene with clothes on.. If this was a problem and I really wanted the actress in the film I would look for a body double and I may have one on standby anyway.
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#7 John Sprung

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 12:32 PM

Cast your actress for acting. If she can hack the nudity, fine. If not, shoot pickups with a body double after prinicipal photography. Just block your coverage for that possibility, and keep a hold on the location.



-- J.S.
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#8 Jim Keller

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Posted 29 May 2008 - 01:16 PM

The point about the sister is interesting... I can definitely see that as the sort of relationship that you would want with an actress.


That does, of course, depend on the relationship you've got with your sister. :P

Is a callback for a "body check" standard procedure? I'm assuming it is because you talk about it, but I haven't heard about it before.


I picked the term up from the unions (I started out as an actor and stage manager), but, yes, a body check is a common enough practice that the unions have specific rules for how to deal with them. Most of them are common sense, and the basis of my "don't" list.

If you're working with an experienced casting director (and if you can afford to do so, I strongly recommend it -- many excellent ones will work very cheaply on shorts or someone's first feature to build the relationship, and I can recommend a couple when you're ready), he/she/it will have a body check procedure down cold.

I also agree with Chris about waiting until the end, but only assuming that everything you said in your post was true. However, if there was a hint of doubt it probably would make sense to shoot at the beginning...


The reason I like to do it up front is something I learned from All I Need to Know about Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger by Lloyd Kaufman, James Gunn, and Roger Corman (a book I strongly recommend for anyone who has studied film). In their films, the nudity is vital to their ability to sell the project (they are, after all, exploitation films). They've had problems when they've waited until the end with performers getting to the end and then refusing to do the nudity (or demanding a much higher wage to do so). It can seriously harm their product when that happens.

Since I'm of the opinion that if the nudity isn't essential to the film, you shouldn't do it (which goes with everything, not just nudity), I fall into the "get it over with" camp.

But, yes, ultimately it's the variety of opinions you get here that makes these forums so useful, so you should never take what I say as the word of God... (when was the last time you heard a producer say that?)
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#9 Jake Vander Ark

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 04:31 AM

Thanks for all the good info Jim. These boards are amazing.
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#10 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 31 May 2008 - 01:34 PM

Only thing that hasn't been mentioned which probably goes without saying - obviously, have at least one woman present, women ideally outnumbering men, at any audition or shoot involving female nudity.

P
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#11 Viviana Glz

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 01:57 PM

Only thing that hasn't been mentioned which probably goes without saying - obviously, have at least one woman present, women ideally outnumbering men, at any audition or shoot involving female nudity.

P



thats true
and besides, the actress needs to relate to the character
so she needs to feel atractive and confortable with her body
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#12 Mike Williamson

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 10:14 PM

As a word of warning, I've shot three features that had sex scenes in the script that ended up being compromised on the day of shooting due to the actresses' unwillingness to do nudity. In each of these cases, the actress had committed to doing nudity and discussed it with the director (to what degree I don't know), but in each case the actress backed out on the day. So when it came down to it, it wasn't a choice the director got to make. I'm not sure what advice I'd have based on those experiences, except to warn you that an initial, vague verbal commitment should be regarded suspiciously. Perhaps it's useful to figure out what you want to shoot before casting and be able to talk about it specifically, so everyone is clear what's expected from the outset.

I would also add that physicality is a hugely important part of any performance. Your actress' degree of comfort in her own body is going to be important for the character, especially as I'm guessing her degree of experience sexually is a part of the plot. So while "hotness" may or may not be part of the criteria, physical openness would be something I'd look for.
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