Sex Sells: Filming Nude Scenes

By Monique Parent

A couple of weeks ago, Allen at asked if I would consider writing a short piece instructing novice filmmakers on how to handle on-set nudity with actors. My first reaction was, "what the heck would I say?" I asked Allen for a list of questions to get me started and boy, did they! I decided that I have a lot to say on the subject--much more than a "short piece" would allow me.

Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Monique Parent. I am an actress who has appeared nude in an astounding number of films. If you don't know who I am, my credits can be viewed at IMDB.

I am writing this as a guide for the directors and producers of low budget, independent films. I'll be discussing nudity on film with the assumption that your movie will have an R or perhaps an NC-17 rating based on the parameters set by the Motion Picture Association.

An R-rated motion picture, in the view of the Rating Board, contains some adult material. An R-rated motion picture may include adult themes, adult activity, hard language, intense or persistent violence, sexually-oriented nudity, drug abuse or other elements, so that parents are counseled to take this rating very seriously. Children under 17 are not allowed to attend R-rated motion pictures unaccompanied by a parent or adult guardian. Parents are strongly urged to find out more about R-rated motion pictures in determining their suitability for their children. Generally, it is not appropriate for parents to bring their young children with them to R-rated motion pictures.

An NC-17 rated motion picture is one that, in the view of the Rating Board, most parents would consider patently too adult for their children 17 and under. No children will be admitted. NC-17 does not mean "obscene" or "pornographic" in the common or legal meaning of those words, and should not be construed as a negative judgment in any sense. The rating simply signals that the content is appropriate only for an adult audience. An NC-17 rating can be based on violence, sex, aberrational behavior, drug abuse or any other element that most parents would consider too strong and therefore off-limits for viewing by their children.

Just to keep things simple, I'll be talking about full nudity front and back without showing genitalia of either sex. This is the standard for films with an R rating. Many of my films are considered (by others) to be Softcore, but for me, the line for pornography is the genitals. This will be the standard for my discussions. So if you are looking to "push the envelope", this might not be very helpful.

Most directors in the low budget world, are technical people, in my experience. Even directors who consider themselves to be "actor's directors" are uncomfortable shooting nudity. And rightly so!!

The primary reason to have the element of nudity in a film is money. It helps make almost any film more saleable. Let's face it, if you are making a movie that isn't necessarily genre specific (ie: horror, action, comedy) the least expensive thing you can add is naked people. One of the mistakes that I see many low budget films make, is adding nudity and sex to the script to help it sell, but because they don't know how to deal with the actors, the end result is.... unsatisfactory.

I'm going to be guiding you through the quagmire of actor's insecurities so that you can sell the movie you have sold your soul (or at least maxed out all your credit cards) to make. Not to sound all New-Age-y, but it's all about trust and respect. When in doubt, personalize.

The Body Check

The Modified Body Check

That's it for this installment. I'll address some practical aspects for on set nudity next time. Detailed info on:

More stuff when I think of it...

This article originally appeared on Monique Parent's blog and was reprinted with permission.

Monique Parent has appeared in films ranging from "Playtime" to "The Truth About Cats and Dogs." You can find a full list of credits on IMDb. You can learn more about Monique, and interact with other fans, through her website,