If you haven't already, you will probably be tasked with cutting together a sex scene at some point in your editing career.
If this makes you nervous, don't worry—you're not alone. Sex scenes can be pretty uncomfortable for everyone involved, from the actors performing in them to the camera operator capturing them. But in his latest video, editor Sven Pape details a few things you should keep in mind when editing one that'll help keep the experience professional and respectful, as well as cinematically effective and powerful.
Here are the 5 tips Pape mentions:
- Don't be a prude
- Make it real
- Make it sexy
- Be respectful
- Trigger the mind
There are lots of things to think about when you edit a sex scene. Yes, you have to make it sexy and interesting, but you also have to craft it in such a way that it makes sense within the story. Obscurity is kind of the name of the game here, giving the audience just enough visual information to know what's going on, but withholding enough to allow their minds to fill in the spots they're not seeing. This gets viewers engaged both psychologically and emotionally and will result in a scene that works to serve your story.
Without a doubt, the most important thing to remember when editing a sex scene is that it must be respectful of the actors. There's a fine line between sexual content and pornographic content, something director Abdellatif Kechiche was accused of crossing when shooting the sex scenes in Blue is the Warmest Color. If your actors or director express their discomfort with any part of the sex scene—a particular shot, angle, or as Pape mentions, a wardrobe malfunction—you have to listen. Consent, consent, consent. If someone takes advantage of their power as an editor with such sensitive footage, I think we all agree that they should just walk away from editing altogether and never look back. Right? Right.
But if everyone does what they should do with the handling of a sex scene, both on set and off, it will usually result in a fun, (albeit awkward and slightly uncomfortable at times) experience.