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Does Sex Really Sell: Filming A Sex Scene

Ok, you pervs. We work in advertising. We are all familiar with the old adage “sex sells.” While many commercials feature cleavage and the allure of sex, many do not include the actual act. Yet when it comes to Film, there are many scenes that contain images of sexualized acts. Pornography aside, we will focus on mainstream cinema.

What the Hell is Going on

Somewhere in the middle is the B-film industry. Which is always a good laugh. There is a wonderful documentary about sex within these films called Some Nudity Required. Yet, the documentary is enjoyable. It discusses the issues involved in making a low budget film and the eccentric characters that spring up.

A lot of practicalities for the ideas of filming a sex scene in mainstream cinema come from the softcore industry. Devices such as a penis sock or a harness inform us on how they avoid penetration while maximizing nudity.

Art House Fart Mouse

Some Hollywood films choose to show full penetration for shock or artistic value. Such is the case in the opening scene of Von Trier’s Antichrist. One could skip this scene in the first minute of the film and understand the storyline just as well. The director may disagree. But sex is already a commodity we overuse in our culture. Some films use nudity as humor. The stripper jumping out of the cake in Under Siege would not be as funny without naked nipples.

Nudity and sex are two different aspects of the same category. Legally, every acting contract has a nudity clause which describes the details. In the majority of these contracts “No nudity” is plainly stated. Oddly this is the case even for voice actors with SAG representation. If you ask me, this is just the lawyers slipping in an extra 5 bucks to charge.

When crews go to shoot a sex scene, it is common to exclude any unnecessary workers from the set. But then there is the case of the orgy scene in Perfume The Story of a Murderer. There are over a hundred extras naked and feigning sexual acts. Rumor has it there was very little choreography of this scene. The director hired open-minded actors. The general rule was to respect those you touch. 

Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal even has a snack just for this scene. Piña Colada scented orgy anyone?

What is the End Goal of the Video?

Sex in cinema is a common theme. We are increasingly immune to it. Writers and directors need to ask how necessary this scene is to the film. Depending on talent, it is something that can raise the budget beyond ROI. Some shows like Game of Thrones attracted audiences by including sex. But the storyline kept people watching. To have longevity for cinema, sex is rarely a useful weapon.

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Does Sex Really Sell: Filming A Sex Scene


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