Saturday, 25 May 2013

A Nude Sensation

Ladies who dont mind doing nude scenes, not a requirement for all but it does pay more.

Something excellent happened this week. After a lot of hard work from lots of people, including the brilliant Karina Cornell, Equity have now decided to investigate the worrying trend that is seeing an increase in acting jobs requiring nudity.

To avoid time-wasting, the director’s requested full frontal nudity in the audition.

Those that follow me on Twitter and see the casting calls I post on my Tumblr, Casting Call Woe, will know that the constant calls for actors to get their kit off is something of a scantily-clad bugbear of mine. There is not a day that goes by when I don't see at least one casting call that requires actors to get naked to play the roles of strippers, escorts, prostitutes or 'the love interest.' And yes, while it's mainly the women that are asked to get naked so they can keep their CV up to date, I'm seeing an increase in calls for male nudity too.

Nudity isn’t essential to get the part but it is encouraged.

So why is it happening? It's easy to say that the problem is mainly in the short film and student film sector where you tend to get a lot of inexperienced filmmakers just having a go at putting something on camera. Maybe they want to make their work to be more edgy and seem like they're doing something different and they decide that the way to do that is to get all the cast to go through excruciating simulated sex scenes in a bedroom donated by the director's best mate's cousin (who just so happens to be there to 'keep an eye on what's happening.') And these jobs often don't pay. All you're offered is your return train fare, a slice of Asda Value quiche and a constant reminder on DVD of that day you found yourself getting naked in front of a crew you'd only met for the first time 5 minutes ago.

It would be ideal if actresses are willing to go topless.

But I think the problem is coming from higher up. As bloody brilliant as shows such as Game of Thrones are, it's almost impossible to watch an episode where the Boob Count hasn't reached double figures by the closing credits. And while shows such as these set a precedent for well made, intelligent programming, they also suggest that all actors are totally fine with getting what their mother gave them out for all the world to see.

Must be willing to show/flash your breasts. 

And what if you're not happy about getting naked? Just because you're an actor then that shouldn't mean that you're willing to do anything for your art. When I first started out the temptation is there to show those dishing out roles that you're happy to do whatever they tell you so that you look employable. Showing willing is what you think will keep the roles coming in. Now, thankfully, I was never put in that situation but I can't say for definite that I wouldn't have if I was asked. There will be actors out there who think that this is acceptable (and I'm sure there are plenty of actors out there who are absolutely fine with it and good luck to them, there's certainly plenty of work out there for them at the moment) and that is a worry. No one should ever feel pressured into getting undressed just because they're worried their showreel hasn't been updated for a year now.

Girl wanted for naked role.

I was recently sent a script by a student filmmaker asking if I would be interested in being in a film he was making. The script contained excruciating lines such as 'he buries his face deep between her thighs' and 'he digs his face into her bosom' and that's when I knew I was definitely out. Now my CV is in seriously desperate need of new work on it but there is a line and this job was nowhere near it. The thought of desperately clawing through a sex scene with a group of 2nd year film students fills me with a dread normally reserved for sitting down and doing my tax return. Yes, maybe they're a wonderfully talented bunch and one of them might go on to win an Oscar but that's not a risk I'm willing to take.

Lying on bed naked and she is thrown across the room.

I know the point has also been raised that this investigation by Equity could lead to censorship and the loss of artistic freedom for writers and filmmakers. I don't think anyone wants that to happen and I don't think anyone in the industry is saying that there needs to be a ban on nudity entirely. However, I do hope that if nothing else, it encourages writers and filmmakers, when sitting down and coming up with their next idea, they spare a thought for the actor approaching their new creation and consider what it requires of them too.  

(For anyone wondering, the lines between each paragraph are genuine sentences taken from genuine casting calls. I wish I'd made them up just for this blog but they are sadly very real and what actors face every day when looking for work.)

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