A nudity rider is a document which clearly defines the level of nudity and the actions to be performed and recorded on camera by actors in any digital media project such as film or tv. A nudity rider protects actors 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 and proof it was obtained consensually. A nudity rider also 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 actors 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 actors regardless of whether they are performing sex or nudity.
In this example, the actor’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 actors 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 actors to film intimacy or nudity scenes. There is no one answer for how much time is appropriate, but actors 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, actors (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 saves 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 actors.
What modesty garments or barriers will be provided
Modesty garments and intimacy barriers are the principal tools in keeping actors safe and distinguishing the simulated aspect of the scene from what otherwise might be considered porn. 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 actor decide they require more (or less) protection.
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 actor, producer, and intimacy coordinator as well as the actor’s agent in some cases. Other members of production who might need information about the parameters of the rider include the 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.”2
1. SAG•AFTRA, 2020 Contracts Updates: Sex Nudity and You