Directors in the U.K. are getting a set of guidelines for directing intimacy scenes while adhering to the complex set of social distancing restrictions due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The new guidelines — entitled “Intimacy in the Time of COVID-19” — are an update to the previously published “Directing Nudity and Simulated Sex” best practices protocols, the U.K.’s first intimacy guidelines which were launched in late 2019.
Again coming from Directors UK — the professional association for screen directors — the update was compiled in consultation with board members Bill Anderson and Susanna White, alongside intimacy coordinator Vanessa Coffey.
According to the organization, the new guidelines offer “creative ways to overcome some of the obstacles presented by filming in a COVID-safe environment, and form best practice for preparation and shooting as the industry returns to work.”
The update covers issues, such as social distancing and increased hygiene and sanitation demands, offering narrative and technical alternatives for conveying intimacy while keeping to new coronavirus shooting guidelines.
It also considers the possibility of using actors’ real-life partners for pick-ups and close-ups where contact can’t be avoided, a method already deployed on The Bold and the Beautiful.
“During the COVID-19 lockdown, audiences consumed content like never before,” said Anderson. “We need to restart filming to continue to deliver the vivid and wide-ranging content that audiences value. Directors have a pivotal role to play in ensuring the film and TV industry restarts as safely as possible. Now more than ever we need to delight audiences hungry for the intimacy of connection, and contribute to a creative culture that has proven so valuable to us all during this pandemic.”
The hugely important role of intimacy coordinators has been brought to the forefront recently thanks to hit British shows, such as Normal People and I May Destroy You.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a new set of challenges for us to navigate. Directors are inherent problem solvers, and we can’t wait to get back to work,” said White. “One of the effects of social distancing has been to appreciate and re-evaluate physical contact as never before. The simple act of hugging has taken on a value no one ever dreamt of. It has made us really mindful of the power – both positive and negative – of touch and we need to carry over that mindfulness into the workplace. We’ve always used our craft to convey intimate stories and relationships on screen, and now, we must do that more creatively than ever.”