How Are Sex Scenes Shot During Covid?

Film and TV production has resumed, with many safety guidelines in place to protect against the spread of covid-19. But how are sex scenes shot during covid?

Directors UK, an organization of over 7,500 film and TV directors, has issued a new set of guidelines to help productions navigate difficult sex scenes.

Titled “Intimacy in a time of Covid-19,” the 11-page document begins by saying that “Scenes involving intimacy – of any nature – have always required skill and a craft-led approach to ensure that everyone feels safe, has given consent and are on the same page when it comes to delivering sensitive content.”

Film and TV covid filming guidelines

But with the dangers of covid-19, the rules outline several specific things productions must do, with regard to all kinds of filming.

  • Risk assessments and risk mitigation plans
  • Frequent testing and temperature checks
  • A comprehensive cleaning and disinfecting strategy for costumes, props, etc
  • A coronavirus health and safety lead who is authorized to send any symptomatic people home
  • Mandated social distancing (with separate “zones,” if needed)
  • Closed sets with minimal crews
  • Mask and glove mandates for below-the-line crew members who come into contact with cast members

How are sex scenes shot during covid?

When it comes to actual sex scenes, the document suggests that writers and directors first start with the script. You can IMPLY intimacy without explicitly showing it, the way movies like Casablanca and It Happened One Night were shot when sex was prohibited on screen.

For TV shows, you can also delay sex scenes until later in the series. But the organization suggests that you plan for no physical contact rather than assuming it’ll be allowed in a few weeks or months.

You can also shoot two sides of a conversation separately, or position the characters side-by-side instead of face-to-face. Consider sexting or phone sex. Reactions to an implied event can also stand in for the actual event.

Longer lenses can also make it seem like the characters are closer than they really are. Shots of limbs under bed sheets can also imply that two characters are in a bed together when they’re really not.

Finally, you could cast a real-life couple who does not need to socially distance or avoid touching!

Topical Sprays that Kill Covid-19

Some productions are actually moving forward with real kissing scenes. Jesse Metcalfe, who’s filming the Hallmark movie Ships in the Night: A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery, says that he had to film one kissing scene and was given a topical spray:

“I do have one kiss in the movie. We’re going through a rigorous protocol,” he told Variety.

“We both got COVID tested again. And then, we’re using a topical spray on our faces that I guess kills the virus. And we’re also using a special mouthwash after the kissing scene. Everyone can have their own opinion about that and the effectiveness of that, but there’s definitely quite a protocol surrounding intimacy while filming.”

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