A nudity rider documents and clearly defines the levels of nudity and the intimate actions to be performed in creative projects such as film, television, and theater. A nudity rider protects performers by setting clear boundaries for what they are willing to do and protects productions because they have clear permission for and ownership of the materials produced throughout filming or production and proof it was obtained consensually. A nudity rider stipulates how the footage can be used. For instance, perhaps nudity is okay in the film but can’t be used in a trailer or other promotional materials.
There are many different ways to write a nudity rider. In this article, you will find some of the key elements which I have adopted from my experiences working as an intimacy coordinator and conversations with other professionals including actors, producers, directors, and other intimacy professionals. This article does not delineate what language should be used or the legality of the methods mentioned. It should be noted that I am not a lawyer. Any contract you draft should be reviewed by an attorney for the protection of all those involved. Instead, this article is about establishing clear communication between all parties and providing all the information necessary for performers to consent.
Description of What is Happening
Provide a detailed list of all the actions to be performed as well as levels of nudity. When possible, use desexualized language – leaning more towards medical terms instead of colloquialisms. If a term might be unfamiliar, include a more familiar definition so that the nudity rider is accessible to people of varying educational backgrounds.
• Kissing on the lips, neck, and torso
• Touching of the face, arms, hands, inner thighs, and left foot
• Partial nudity from the waist up
• Simulated digital penetration (fingering)
• Simulated cunnilingus
Description of What Will and Won’t Be Shown On Screen
This can be accomplished in different ways. I like to use a diagram to clearly demonstrate which areas of the body will be seen unclothed on screen and which won’t.
SAG•AFTRA actually stipulates that “Any intimate body part not agreed to in writing to be shown in the film or on set must be covered on set. This is to make the performer feel more comfortable, and prevent any unauthorized footage.”1. That means this is a required section of the nudity rider.
*Side note: if we are to take this rule literally then it is arguable that a nudity rider is required for all SAG•AFTRA performers regardless of whether they are performing sex or nudity.
In this example, the performer’s genitalia, intergluteal cleft, nipples, and right scapula would not be shown on screen. All other parts including the gluteal muscles, thoracic region, and abdomen can be shown. It can be beneficial to list areas below the diagram where clarity is needed.
Click below to download a FREE blank diagram.
Attaching each script page that contains nudity or intimacy is now industry standard and required by SAG•AFTRA. This ensures maximum clarity for everyone signing.
Besides attaching the pages, I like to include each page number in the document as well so that it is easy to check that all relevant pages have been provided.
Giving performers the appropriate amount of time to get ready, film, and de-role after is critical not only for the safety of a scene but also for the quality of the content produced. It is helpful to include a time minimum and maximum for performers to film intimacy or nudity scenes. There is no one answer for how much time is appropriate, but performers should be given enough time to get in and out of character safely while not expecting them to work on intimacy or nudity scenes for prolonged periods of time. Adequate breaks are also important. If work extends beyond an hour, performers (and crew members) should be given at least a few minutes to rest. For productions with lots of intimacy or nudity it is common to push all the scenes together in order to save costs when employing an intimacy professional. However, it is inadvisable to work on high-risk content for extended periods of time. If this is a concern, including a maximum length of time as well as downtime in-between work can be an important tool to protect performers.
What Modesty Garments or Barriers Will Be Provided
Modesty garments and intimacy barriers are the principal tools in keeping performers safe and distinguishing the simulated aspect of the scene from what otherwise might be considered porn or erotica. Detailing exactly what will be provided ensures that garments can be ordered or created in the appropriate amount of time as well as allowing time for adjustments should the performers decide they require more (or less) protection.
Behind the Scenes Photos and Still Images
Some performers or productions might request behind the scenes footage of intimate moments. Such requests should be clearly stated in the nudity riders and consent given by all performers involved in the scene. It is important to note that behind the scenes photos are not allowed unless explicitly requested. SAG•AFTRA states that “There is a ban on recording using personal phones and devices on closed sets. Any still photography, which has always required prior written consent, must be securely stored and only accessible by essential persons. [And] A performer must give prior written consent for any nude/modesty garment photograph to be used in any promotional material.”2.
When behind the scenes photos or still images are requested, additional descriptions of what is happening and of what will and won’t be shown on screen should be included specifically in reference to those images.
It’s important that several key members of production are aware of the contents of the nudity rider and should demonstrate they have read it and agreed by signing the document including the performers and production as well as the performer’s agent when applicable. Other members of production who might need information about the parameters of the rider include (but are not limited to) the intimacy professional, director, director of photography, script supervisor, costume designer, and behind-the-scenes photographer.
Nudity riders should be signed 48-hours before filming. SAG•AFTRA stipulates that there should be “no last-minute requests for nudity and simulated sex. There is a new 48-hour rule in which producers must give the performer and professional representatives at least 48 hours before call time to review/negotiate rider for nudity/simulated sex. Last-minute changes are prohibited. If a producer wants to request any change to what was agreed upon, the performer must be given an additional 48 hours prior to call time.”3
1. SAG•AFTRA, 2020 Contracts Updates: Sex Nudity and You