Directors UK launches new intimacy guidelines

Directors UK, the professional association for screen directors, has launched new guidelines for creating a safe environment around filming film and TV scenes with nudity or simulated sex.

The organisation has said the new guidelines are “born of the need to set clear and shared professional expectations that apply to everyone involved in making sensitive content, with the aim that they will become standard working practice within the industry”.

The ‘Directing Nudity & Simulated Sex’ guidance provides best practice for directors working with producers, writers, performers, casting directors, wardrobe and makeup, agents and intimacy coordinators.

Guidelines included in the document include reviewing nude and simulated sexual content with the writer; discussing nude or simulated sex scenes with agents before contracts are signed; working early in the process with wardrobe and make-up departments to ensure performers are comfortable; and prioritising open communication, mutual respect and collaboration with performers.

The guidance covers rehearsal techniques, directing scenes of sexual violence, planning shots so they adhere to individual contract clauses and finding creative solutions to various on-set challenges.

The guidelines were produced in consultation with Directors UK member directors, industry bodies and professionals from across the disciplines to ensure standardised best practice.

The guidance is supported by BAFTA, BFI, the Casting Directors’ Guild, Equity and the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain as well as industry advocacy group Time’s Up UK.

Susanna White, film committee chair for Directors UK and BAFTA-winning Generation Kill and Parade’s End director, said: “The director, as the creative lead on a production, should set the tone for a professional and respectful on-set environment. We are all here because we want to tell compelling and impactful stories, and no member of a cast or crew should ever be put in a position where they feel unsafe, exploited or mismanaged — especially when making sensitive material.

“Throughout my career, I have seen how vitally important it is to know how to approach sensitive content with professionalism. The guidelines created by Directors UK set the standard for directing intimate scenes and will help to foster a safe working environment for everyone on a film or television set.”

Natasha Moore, campaigns and engagement manager for Directors UK, added: “We created these guidelines to encourage directors to think twice about the environment they create in auditions and on set. Directors can use their influence to nurture a safe working environment for all, and this is keenly felt when rehearsing and filming vulnerable and sensitive scenes. The guidelines equip everyone with everything they need to do their job without concern, and it is in this spirit of collaboration that we can all make our best work.”

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