Are Love Scenes Hot To Make?
Think that the actors & actresses have dream jobs where they get paid to have "all that fun"? You might want to read this first ~ before you quit that day job!
When people find out I’ve been an actor and a movie producer, the question I hear most often is, “So, how is it making those love scenes?” What I love is the grin on their face that follows the question. It starts small, more like smirk, and then just grows. They finally get to hear the real dirt. Gossip from the source and you just know it’s going to be good.
The only thing funnier than the exploding grin is the mouth-dropping shock on their face when you tell them it sucks. The balloon just sprung a leak and is zooming all around the room making that almost bodily sound. The face tells the whole story. You can almost read the words: “But it looks so hot. So romantic! How can it Suck?”
So begins the tale.
First of all, to understand how really unromantic the whole thing is, you have to know what is going on behind the camera. If you don’t want to see what’s behind the curtain, turn away now.
When a movie has a love scene, it’s there to help sell the picture. Any story can be helped with a little sex. This is a very old Hollywood rule. Everyone in the business understands it. The more help the story needs, the more skin has to be shown. Compare Julia Roberts movies to Porn.
Love scenes are not even called love scenes. In the business, it’s called simulated sex scenes. Everything is very clear. NOTHING IS REALLY GOING ON. Now finding an actor willing to perform in a love scene is about as hard as finding a tree in the forest.
Finding an actress willing to perform in the love scene is like finding a tree in the desert. It’s the whole “society looking down at me, my body sucks, it could ruin my chance for an Oscar” thing. So the actress has to be convinced it is a major part of the story line. Every detail is spelled out in a contract to which all parties must sign. Can you just feel the romance?
Now you have two people signed and it’s time to make the movie. Love scenes are always shot first. Why? In case the actress changes her mind. Once she has shot most of the movie, you can’t replace her. So if she changes her mind about the simulated sex scene, she has the movie company over a barrel. To prevent this, the love scene is shot on the first day.
The first day goes like this. You show up before the sun comes up. Not really awake but excited to be working. You don’t really know anyone on the set. Just like any first day on the job.
The director comes in and says, “Have you met your co-star?”
You reply, “Ahh, I haven’t even had my coffee yet.”
Director, “I’ll bring him by to meet you.”
Director. “He just got here. Robert, come over here. I would like you to meet Jennifer.”
What the director really should say is- “This is the guy you have never met, who will be crawling all over your naked body all day. You two kids get to know each other. We’ll be ready for you in thirty minutes.”
Now the guy is excited to meet you. This is the best thing in the world. He gets to see you naked, kiss you, roll all over you and he didn’t even have to spring for dinner. Can you see the smile on his face???
Once the introductions are over, it’s time to get into make-up. Two women will now apply make-up. All over. From head to toe. If it shows on camera, it gets covered in make-up. Next comes the protection. Both performers will be without clothes. To prevent things from getting out of hand (or “in the pocket” as it were), the make-up people apply insurance. Think “large band-aid.” Trimmed to fit. As a guy, I can only imagine how this must go over.
I have my share of body hair and sometimes I get cut where there is hair. Now I never think to shave the area before I put on the band-aid. When it comes time to remove it, I wish I had thought it through. The pain makes me think, next time just let it bleed. And since most humans have hair, and that hair likes to grow in the most inconvenient places….I think you know where I am going. Anyway, now it is time to hit the set.
As a side note. Some have suggested slipping the actor an erection-lethal dose of salt peter in a drink before the scene. The only problem was how effective would it be and for how long? Like with birth control, women gave up trying to fix the guy and did it themselves.
If the movie has a budget, then the set is on a sound stage made to look like a bedroom. Just out of camera range are cables, ladders, carts and boxes. Boxes??? Yeah, people stand on them, sit on them, walk on them. How did you think Tom Cruise looks tall in the movies?
Because the lights give off so much heat, the room is cold. About sixty degrees cold. The actors come to the set wearing robes. Now they get to meet the crew. This little bedroom holds the director, director of photography, camera operator, five lighting grips, the dolly grip, sound person, boom operator, film loader, script girl, and make up person. To get a good idea, next time you want to make out with your partner, invite all the neighbors you have never met over to watch. Have them stand around drinking coffee and commenting under their breath while you make out. Romantic???
Now it’s time to film. So you talk about the first shot. The director tells you where to lie, which hand to use, where to hold, and how far you can move before you are out of frame. Out of frame is bad. Very bad. If it is out of frame, it is not seen. This is the money scene so everything must be seen.
Okay, the scene is ready. No real rehearsal. No line to memorize. Just move the way the director has told you to move. So it’s time to take off the robe and climb into bed. Remember it’s still sixty degrees because the lights haven’t heated up the place yet. So the two strangers, in their birthday suits climb into bed with 10 strangers watching. It’s show time folks. The fun begins. The camera rolls and the two strangers get to not be strangers any more, right? No.
First shot, man and woman start kissing. After about thirty seconds of passion, he kisses his way to her neck. CUT. Time to move the camera and lights. Both actors get back out of bed and put on the robes. Wait ten minutes while the light and camera are moved.
Everything is ready, off come the robes and back into bed. Oh, I forgot, someone had to take pictures of exactly where the actors were on the bed to match the shot so now the pictures come out and the actors have to position themselves exactly like they were when the director yelled cut. Another minute. Ready, Action. The actor kisses down to the breast. CUT. Time to move the camera and lights to get her reaction. Back out of bed and into robes to wait. Ten minutes later, off with the robes and back into bed. More pictures, more placing and now we are ready for her reaction shot.
This goes on for hours. By hour two, the actors just lay in the bed. Forget the robes, everyone is bored with the skin by now. All the crew is making comparisons. Is that a mole on his butt? Her chest looked bigger in the pictures.
Just repeat this for six more hours and you get the idea.
Now before you think everything is great for the guy, remember this. The crew is mostly guys. He’s naked in front of a bunch of guys. He is also worried. Will they be comparing? Or worse, laughing??? Will his co-star be impressed? Will she laugh?? Will she get mad if he has a physical reaction? Will she get mad if he doesn’t??? And let’s not forget, breath is like a fish in the hot sun. No matter how fresh in the morning, by late afternoon, it starts to stink.
Sounds very romantic, no?
Things to consider, bathroom calls. Remember the band-aid. Hair fixed. Body make-up has to be reapplied. Plus you have to deal with a director who has only had one girlfriend his whole life. Romance is watching other peoples love stories on the screen. Remember, he’s a film student. Kind of like having a Nun as a sex counselor.
So after eight to ten hours of this, the two actors are either almost married or they hate each other. Which only means they fell in love around the fourth hour but are over each other now.
I know. You thought love scenes were sooo HOT. Well you’re right. By the end of the day, those lights have finally heated up the room to about 105 degrees.