this is how they prepare the sex scenes

What Maria Schneider suffered during the filming of last tango in paris It sounds far away, but sometimes it is convenient to remember where you come from to know where you are. It was the year 1972, the French actress was 19 years old and neither the director of the film, Bernardo Bertolucci, nor the leading actor, Marlon Brando, explained the details of the controversy to the young woman. anal rape scene that appears in the film. Both planned on the same morning of filming to use a butter tablet as a lubricant for sodomization and executed the plan in front of the cameras, without this appearing in the script and without the interpreter having given her consent.

The trauma that triggered Bertolucci and Brando’s deception stayed with Schneider for life. The actress, who died in 2011 at the age of 58, never got over a humiliation that would never have occurred in the presence of an intimacy coordinatora professional figure who has been based in the United States for a couple of years and who has also reached Spanish filming.

“We take care of give actors security when they play intimate scenesat the same time that we protect your consent throughout the entire production process and we help the director with the creative vision and with the choreography of the intimate scenes”, explains in a conversation with TVE the intimacy coordinator Tábata Cerezo, one of the pioneers in the country .

A before and after in the filming

After summarizing its function and emphasizing that ensuring consent is “a fundamental pillar”, Cerezo explains how intimate scenes are usually carried out when these professionals, who are mostly women, do not mediate: “Let’s say that there was a certain emptiness and that was left to chance of the production the one that had the space, the sensitivity and the time to be able to attend to these scenes with the necessary delicacy (…) Many times it would surely be done well but many other times, due to clumsiness or ignorance, uncomfortable, unwanted situations…”, bill.

In Spain, the presence of privacy coordinators is now widespread, but in United States this role has been strengthened since the #MeToo movement provoked a collective reflection on the treatment received by actors —especially actresses— and uncovered numerous cases of sexual abuse and harassment. Beyond avoiding these forms of violence, what the coordination of intimacy aims to do is provide security to actors so that they know at all times what is being asked of them and can work on these scenes in the most comfortable way possible.

It’s just the opposite of what Salma Hayek experienced when she recorded a sequence sexually charged for tape desperate which became a “traumatic” experience. Not because her co-star, Antonio Banderas, gave her a hard time (quite the contrary, according to her) but because the Mexican still did not feel comfortable enough to face that type of scene and because the details of it did not appear in the initial script.

Cerezo, who also works as an actress, says that it is common for there to be scripts in which it is simply stated that the actors “have sex” without defining how they have to interact. There are also occasions in which a scene is described but the interpreters do not know “the level of nudity” and sometimes they find out on the set that they have to be without clothes, because no one had warned them before. “‘Last tango in Paris’ is a great example of the limit that this situation (of ignorance) could reach, that abuse was generated on a shoot,” he underlines.

Lucía Delgado, another of the first privacy coordinators to carry out this work in Spain, compare this professional figure with that of the action coordinatorthan a work better known inside and outside the audiovisual industry: “Just as they (the actors in action scenes) wear elbow pads, knee pads and pretend that this fight is going to be real without anyone getting punched, we do what himself (with the actors pretending to have sex)”.

The task of “choreographing” the movements and postures

The first thing Cerezo and Delgado do is work as “intermediaries” in all conversations related to the intimate scenes that are maintained between the production, the direction and the actors. “We have meetings with the production to understand the tone of the project, with the director or director to understand what his approach to those scenes and what is on his mind, and then we have private conversations with the actors to understand what their limits are. We define a common playing field and, according to the limits of all, we are putting together the choreography of the scenes in rehearsals (…) We do everything possible in pre-production so that everything is clear during filming and the actors are very calm”, explains Cerezo.

Since nothing is left to chance, there are also essays. In one of those coordinated by this last professional, and which this medium has been able to attend, it is clearly seen how the actors have control of scenes that prepare as if it were a dance. The usual thing, when the two interpreters who are going to have to fake a sexual relationship still do not trust each other, is that the contact begins little by little; First, it is recommended to keep looking at each other for a few moments and then get closer and closer to each other. They only touch each other when both have given permission to do so and always in a previously agreed manner.

In fact, one of the exercises consists of the two actors —in the case of the scene performed before the TVE cameras, a boy and a girl— standing face to face to indicate to the other what the limits are. what they do is assign a color to the different areas of the body: green, for the parts that can be played without hesitation; yellow for areas where you have to be careful; and red for areas that are banned. In this case, for example, the actress made it clear that when the erotic scene had to be recreated, her partner could kiss her neck or lightly caress her chest, but there could be no touching of the genital area.

Physical barriers and a basic rule: there is never direct genital contact

The latter has to do with something that the coordinators have established as a general rule or “basic rule”: there will be no direct genital contact in sex scenes.

“We provide a series of elements that we call ‘Physical barriers’which we often design ourselves and which serve to ensure that there is never direct genital contact,” says Delgado, referring to objects such as rubber balls or shells that are placed between the two actors and passed unnoticed in front of the cameras during the recordings.

Added to this are what are known as “garments of modesty” (translated directly from the English modesty garments), which is the underwear that discreetly covers the private parts of the actors, allowing them to give the impression of nudity on camera.

Thanks to these resources, the guidelines set by the coordinators and the “tricks” of the cameramen, the team manages to develop scenes that they look real without the actors even touching each other. Body movements are calculated so that no one is involved in an unpleasant situation.

Regarding this, Delgado points out that the coordination of intimacy it is not only beneficial for merely sexual scenes between several people but it is also helpful when there is nudity or the actor has to expose himself alone, as would happen, for example, if he had to pretend to masturbate.

A figure that the actors see “essential”: “We have felt safer”

Actress Laura Ledesma wonders how she has been able to work until now “without the coordination of intimacy.” “It seems to me an absolutely essential apartment. Before, in my work experience, the intimate scenes were always agreed with the director or with your partner and there was a point where it was left as far as you wanted to go. That seems dangerous to me because in a shooting context, where things go very fast, there is never time for anything (…) there is no time for the artist to set limits”, he says.

Also Clara Galle and Julio Peña, the two protagonists of the film through my windowThey see it as very necessary for this professional profile to be established. “We have felt much more comfortable, safer (…) The other actors older than me tell me: ‘I couldn’t ask permission and they couldn’t ask me’, and it gives you security knowing that you can do it and knowing that with you they will do what you want and as far as you want’, explains Galle, who is 20 years old.

His partner in that film in which they had an intimacy coordinator admits that he arrived at the shoot with “a little fear” because he was going to face his first sex scenes. “Having that figure has helped us in a process in which we could have eaten our heads a lot. He has taught us to take the first steps,” says the 21-year-old.

Oscar winner Kate Winslet He has also claimed this professional role and has come to ask that these mediators be present on the set whenever there are intimate sequences. In addition, she acknowledged that she would have appreciated such support in the past.

Make the scenes more realistic and “diverse”

Along with the work of coordinating and protecting, what these film professionals offer is a advice. They know how to go to the maximum detail and realism in sexual recreations without exceeding the limits set by the actors, so they help the direction to achieve very authentic scenes and they try to make them well integrated into the story; that is to say, that they tell something about the plot and the characters, and that they are not limited to being only bawdy scenes.

In the same way, they always try to make the films they work on move away from the classic “stereotypes” into which sexual scenes often fall. “Until now, there was a common place, we represented sexuality in a very similar way. We went from kissing directly to intercourse and gender roles were highly stereotyped. We intend for this to change more and more, for the sex scenes to be as authentic and diverse as possible,” emphasizes Cerezo.

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