Intimacy on set – choreographing sex scenes

I had an opportunity to attend Ita O’Brien’s Intimacy on Set training in association with Screen Skills Ireland at the beginning of this year and I have to say I felt relieved. Let me explain..

When it comes to performing stunts- there is a stunt coordinator, who makes sure no one gets physically hurt. What about the mental damage? Imagine filming a rape scene?

Well, as a matter of fact, I did just that, last year. I directed a short film called “Hear a No” last year, that had a rough intimate scene in it. When I was preparing for rehearsals, I was researching how it must be done, in order to make it as comfortable as possible for everyone involved. I wanted to make sure I do right by both cast and crew. At the time, unfortunately, I haven’t come across Ita O’Brien’s technique. Most I got, was that it was meant to be a closed set. OK, but how do I approach rehearsals? And the shoot?

Luckily, at the time, I was participating in an acting class led by Terry McMahon, who is an amazing actor-writer-director himself. I turned to Terry for advise, as I knew he had nailed great intimate scenes in his films. Terry was very kind to help me out and shared how he approached rehearsing and filming intimate scenes. With his advice, I was able to make actors as comfortable with the scene as I could and the shoot went smoothly.

Back to Ita.. It’s absolutely amazing to see the extent of work Ita has put into creating the guidelines that everyone in the industry can follow on set while filming intimate scenes. Ita has developed a very thorough process and technique that she teaches. She also works as an intimacy coordinator and movement director. Ita has coordinated such major productions like Netflix’es “Sex Education” and BBC’s “Gentleman Jack” to name a few. HERE IS a short video of Ita talking a little bit about choreographing sex scenes.

Few takeaways from both Terry’s and Ita’s advice:

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  • Agree on level of nudity, discuss and rehearse the scene prior to shoot. Sign those forms.
  • Speak with each actor in private first, to establish their boundaries. Check past trauma to make sure it doesn’t get triggered. Know that consent can change from yes to no and another way around at the rehearsals or on set.
  • No objectifying. Use proper language to describe body parts, movements etc.
  • Agree physical touch. At rehearsals make sure each body part that is being touched/kissed is discussed and agreed upon.
  • Have a timeout sign which actors can use to stop the scene if at any time they feel uncomfortable.
  • Ask actors not to involve any emotions at the rehearsals stage. Use it purely for blocking. This will ensure that actors don’t give “their all” to a performance before camera can capture it.
  • As mentioned before- it’s a closed set for the whole duration of the shoot for the intimate scene (and not just for the takes). Phones and monitors are to be switched off, only those who absolutely need to be there present.
  • Schedule intimate scenes for the morning and discuss hygiene, make sure actors come in showered.
  • Get actors to try on bits of intimate wardrobe (like genital covers) before the shoot to make sure they fit.
  • Nudity is only from “action” to “cut” – get actors covered straight away after the “cut” and keep them covered until just before “action”.
  • And finally, have actors do some movement routine to get out of the character and back into their own selves after the shoot.

Ok, here it is, I hope you find it useful. I would strongly recommend attending Ita’s workshop. Also, having an intimacy coordinator on set for them scenes, if the budget allows. Take these scenes seriously and prepare appropriately. I believe we really need to take care of our emotions as much as we take care of ourselves physically.

I will leave Ita’s website here, it’s www.itaobrien.com you can find a lot of useful information about intimacy guidelines and upcoming workshops there.

Picture in this article was captured by Jaro Waldeck @jarucube www.jarowaldeck.com

 

Festival Screening for Night Out in Killashandra

Night Out in Killashandra festI’m pleased to announce that Night Out in Killashandra has been selected for 9th Underground Cinema Film Festival 2018.

It will be screened in The Martello Suite at The Royal Marine Hotel Dun Laoghaire with Short Film Program 4 on Saturday, September 1st at 5:30pm.

Here is a link to the festival official page where you can buy a pass if you’d like to see it on the big screen along with great selection of other shorts:

https://www.ucff.ie/saturday-shorts

Exciting stuff altogether! 

Voice Over

PSX_20180504_123810To be in shape for recording voice over, I read out loud for at least 15 minutes daily (or add the minutes up and make up for the missed day/s when I skip that practice). When I read, I do it pronouncing the words very clearly and honour the punctuation to adjust my intonation accordingly. Exactly how I would if I was reading for the voice over recording. If there are pieces of dialogue, I sometimes act them out too, makes it so much more fun. For this practice I’d use a book I’m currently reading, news or blog article that I clicked to read or even a lengthier friend’s social post.. So, it is incorporated into my routine quite effortlessly, I read at home, on the terrace or by the lake, choosing relatively quiet places where I wouldn’t necessarily be seen or disturbed/disturbing others. So yeah, I avoid this practice in social places, like on the bus or in cafeteria, although that could have been quite a funny experience, especially if I’d set up the camera to record reactions of the people around me (sketch idea?).

fruitBefore recording I try not to eat or drink dairy products like milk, yoghurt, cheese etc, any sugary things like chocolate or sweets, caffeine, sodas, alcohol or greasy/spicy foods. Also, nothing too cold or too hot. Eating greasy and spicy foods or dairy products can give heartburn, dairy products thickens the mucus that will imply me having to clear my throat more often, which is the last thing I’d want to be doing during the recording. Caffeine and chocolate dries out the throat and sodas contain not only sugars but also the bubbles, which might prompt belching in front of that microphone.. Emm, yikes, nope thanks. What I do eat/drink is room temperature water or herbal tea, a spoonful of honey, fresh fruit, nuts, salads. All of these keep mucus membranes and throat nice and healthy.

On the day of recording I’d warm up with some breathing exercises to make sure I’m using my diaphragm rather than the chest voice when I record, stretch my face muscles by making funny faces and do the lip roll. By the way, I also sometimes go through this routine before I start with my daily reading.

microphoneLastly, when recording, I speak clearly and with confidence, as if I’d be talking with a friend and telling a story and make sure that I mean what I say when I say it so it sounds believable, rather than something I’m reading off the piece of paper. Having attended tonnes of acting classes and spent time on film sets and theatre stages certainly helps acting out the text and sounding natural, adjusted to the situation I’m meant to be in.

Hope this was somewhat helpful. Click –> HERE to hear the latest voice over that I have done for the ACM‘s video on Multiparty Privacy in Social media. I also appear in the video’s b-roll browsing social media and taking selfies 🙂

Female Filmmaker Friday

A little sneak peek into mine..

PSX_20180526_003616Saw the first draft of the movie that we filmed recently (it’s looking awesome yaaaay!) just few minor tweaks and it will be ready for submission to festivals- check ✔️

Voted to repeal the 8th – check ✔️

PSX_20180526_001402Got my hair cut and looking all pretty – check ✔️

Visited my ex-workplace (Microsoft) and their new shiny building in Leopardstown and got to hug and chat with my favourite peeps with whom I spent loads and loads of hours working and who are still my dear friends + made a party (I DJ’d with my Spotify play list) in the dressing area and got to meet new amazing ladies + chilled out on the rooftop terrace with cakes and latte’s (afternoon tea traditions like back in the days were revived- indeed, indeed) – check ✔️ 

Ladies Evening at Leopardstown Races – check ✔️

Now on to script editing… It’s past midnight, I know. It’s OK, I’ve got coffee.. Cccccchheeeecck (loading)

Hope you all had a fantastic and productive Friday! Happy weekend!

 

Behind the scenes of “Banter” and “Night Out in Killashandra” short films

PSX_20180514_201617My example of time well spent.. One day. Two short films made. Amazing banter was had. Literally..

Banter is the name of a short film written by Fabien Oman. A beautiful piece that explores mental health through… well, a bit of a friendly banter. I believe that talking and being open about mental health issues helps. This is why I was really keen to get involved, to spread the word and share it with more people on screen.

PSX_20180514_202017Night Out in Killashandra is another short film that we filmed on the same day, last Saturday. I wrote the screenplay for that. Seeing people in a pub or a bar swiping left and right on popular dating apps and not paying attention to the immediate surroundings prompted me to write it. It explores another theme too… To find out, you’ll just have to watch the movie when it’s out.

How did we manage to squeeze production of two short films in one day?

  • They were very, very short. 1 minute short to be precise.
  • It was a very intense day on set with a very talented bunch of people on both sides of the camera.

Click HERE for behind the scenes video that was filmed by Conor Tobin and edited by Philip Kidd.PSX_20180514_223114

Film talk with Matt from The What I Watched Tonight Show

Screenshot_20180507-221341__01__01I’m pleased to share my very first interview as a filmmaker.

Check it out on What I Watched Tonight <– CLICK HERE

You can expect to hear about how disastrously “well” my first acting class went, how I got on filming short films “If I would have been back home” and “Hanna Wins”, also about who my favourite film directors are and why…