Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The Art of Negotiating Nudity

Submitted by Brad Paulson

This is not so much an article on how to get nudity for your low-budget movie as it is an article on how to completely fail on getting nudity for your low-budget movie.

As an example, I’ll go over all the mistakes I made on our last flick. If you do the opposite of everything I did, your chances of getting those luscious undergarments to hit the floor will increase significantly.

Before the casting began, my partners and I got together and formulated a tightly scripted verbal argument on how our nudity would only be for the sake of art, essential for the character and completely non-gratuitous. Of course, this was all bullshit. Using nudity was never intended to increase the artistic value of our movie. It was intended to get people to watch our movie. No one wants to admit that they just simply enjoy looking at cans. But let‘s face it, nudity and horror movies go together like peanut butter and chocolate. And it’s a hell of a lot better bang for your buck than any of those pricey computer generated shots that flood the movies nowadays. Besides, like some famous director once said and many others less famous have taken credit for, “a woman’s breasts are the best and cheapest special effect.”

Sorry about that. Got a little sidetracked there. Back to the article.

Our plan of attempting to negotiate for nudity failed miserably. All we got is a vague promise of partial nudity through a see through nightie. We were way too wishy-washy. If we just explained that the part required nudity up front, we would have been much better off. Lloyd Kaufman executes this technique perfectly in his Troma flicks. But no, we had to try and be all politically correct and look where that got us. Don’t even bother using the lame argument of how your subjects will be getting naked for the sake of art. This may have worked on a short film for your performance experiment class during those drunken days in college, but once everyone sobers up, it’s an entirely different story. Just be upfront about it. Embrace your sleaze.
I suppose it didn’t help that we cast at the local Starbucks either. This went over about as well as a greasy fart in church. Along with making us look completely unprofessional, we also revealed our true low-budget natures by casting at a place that only required a dollar ninety-nine cup of coffee as a deposit. People are much more likely to follow your lead if they think you have money. The trick is to never reveal how low-budget you are right away. If you‘re as low-budget as I am (and that‘s pretty low, I‘m telling you), do it the Hollywood way. Rent an expensive car, see if you can find a friend in the business, and ask them if they’re really getting treated fairly as the peons they are. After they agree to take the risk of getting fired, work out a deal to shoot at their glamorous locale when their bosses are out to lunch. Then, roll up in style to greet the ladies in your hip and trendy, yet very temporary vehicle. In other words, lie, lie, lie.
It’s a damn sad truth, but as far as getting what you want goes when you’re super low-budget, you’ll more often than not get cornholed for telling the truth. Let everyone slowly realize how broke you really are. Hopefully, they won’t piece everything together until the end of the shoot. By then, it’ll be too late. Heh-heh (insert your own evil laughter here).

When things came around to shooting the nudity, I fucked that up too. Things started off great. Everyone was drinking and having a good time. Our actress was damn near ready to give us full exposure. Then, what happened? We were all tired and rushed the scene. Fatigue took precedence over skin! If everyone would have kept partying who knows what would have happened? But, I had to go and wussy out. As a result, the scene turned out to be the exact kind I always protest in movies, the ones with the clothes on. We could have easily avoided this error by simply allowing enough time to shoot the scene. This would have let us milk the production value for all it’s worth (for the lack of a more tasteful term). But no, like dumb-asses we scheduled the scene as the very last one in the shoot. And on an independent movie this works out to be right around five thirty in the morning. Not a good idea. When you’re going for nudity, it must be treated with as much care and precision as an elaborate action sequence. Take the whole fraggin’ day if you have to. Hell, take a whole fraggin’ week! That’s what all those horny teens will be renting the movie for anyway.

Don’t hesitate to convey to your potential nude subject how much easier it will be to sell the movie once they’ve gotten naked. If they protest and call you a sleaze, ask if they’ll accept any money. If that changes their mind, ask them if it‘s a moral or a financial issue. If they say it‘s a financial one, ask them why they responded to an ad that said “no pay, copy and credit, meals provided?” Damn, I wish I would have thought of that argument when we were casting.

Okay, kiddies, let’s sum up all the mistakes I made.

Attempting to negotiate for nudity.

Not embracing my own sleaze (see above mistake).

Casting at Starbucks.

Telling the truth about my financial situation.

Not partying long enough.

Making sleep a priority over smut.

Okay, there it is. Your best bet at achieving nudity without a budget is to do exactly the opposite of what I did. Best of luck and may your casting couches feel the warmth of bare flesh, and hopefully not just yours.


Anonymous said...

I thought your article was right on; and there has to be actors who enjoy flaunting their sexuality as much as most people enjoy spectatorship. Although a prude (according to boyfriend), I love nudity and sex within a "proper" (have a good story-line) setting.
Unfortunately, outside of pure porn, there is scant erotica around in films.

On another note, why support our demented puritanical culture (by excluding sex and/or nudity in film) in it's lack of recognition of our innate sexuality and the need for freedom and openess. Instead we all deal w/ the effects of human and sexual repression; as sexual deviants act out in their commission of sex crimes of all varieties.

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