WEDNESDAY'S SCRIPT TIP:

SEX SCENES


Today's Script Tip is RESTRICTED - no one under 17 will be admitted without parent or legal guardian. We're going to be talking about writing SEX SCENES so if you have kids in the room, you may want to cover the monitor.

People always ask me about writing sex scenes (or "love scenes" as shy people call them) - how much should you describe? When is it too soon for your characters to have a love scene? Can you deduct the research from your taxes?

I admit that I have written "love scenes" - actually, they were sex scenes. Back in 92 or 93 I wrote a flick with Playboy Playmate Of The Year Shannon Tweed called VICTIM OF DESIRE that's basically SEA OF LOVE meets STAKEOUT.

But enough about my sordid past...

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The main question to ask about any love scene is: What INFORMATION does your love scene give the audience? You see, a "love scene" really isn't any different from any other kind of scene (except for the nudity) - it's there to TELL THE STORY. If they only information is that they "do it" you can cut away once the audience knows what's going to happen.

If there's additional information, you have to stick around and relay that to the audience. For instance - if they're perfectly matched in bed but can't stand each other when they're not "doing it" you'll have to SHOW how in sync they are between the sheets so that we can see the difference in the way they act when they aren't nekkid.

BETWEEN THE SHEETS

You know, movies are what we wish real life was... not real life. In that Mark Harmon/Sean Connery film, Harmon and Meg Ryan have sex on the hood of a car! In real life, that car hood was probably really cold on Meg Ryan's fanny, on film it was something we hadn't seen before. We've seen a million sex scenes in bed, is there someplace more interesting for them to have sex? Or something interesting about the way they have sex? Or something funny about the way they have sex? What makes this sex scene INTERESTING (aside from nekkid people)?

LOVE RACKS

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When you're writing something like SEA OF LOVE or BASIC INSTINCT the key to those sex scenes is a little thing called the "Love Rack" that James M. Cain came up with in the early-1940s. The Love Rack is the reason why the couple must make love, and the reason why they must NOT make love... and it's the same reason!

In SEA OF LOVE we have a lonely cop who is chasing a Personals Ad serial killer of lonely guys. While undercover on a date, he meets the most fantastic woman. The kind of woman he could fall in love with. So he pursues her off the clock. The more he's with her, the more in love he becomes... and the more evidence he finds that makes her look like the killer! During their sex scenes he's always looking over his shoulder - will she kiss him or kill him?

Here's another scenario - Powerful mobster has sexy wife, so he has his right hand man be her bodyguard... to make sure that men don't hit on her. "If any guy touches her, I want him dead." So our bodyguard is with the wife all the time - that's his job. But being with her all the time, he falls in love with her. Now, the minute they hit the sheets you know they're in trouble. You're afraid they'll be discovered, and the bodyguard guy will be killed. This adds suspense and tension to the sex scenes. So you milk that - make sure the only time they have to do it is somewhere that the husband might discover them. You've added another layer to the scene - suspense!

PORNOGRAPHIC DETAILS

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How much detail you go into depends on what information you're trying to get across. You don't need to be vulgar, but sometimes you need to be "hot and spicy". In a film like BASIC INSTINCT the sex scenes are a major part of the story... and you treat them just like any other important scene: you write them in a way to give the reader an emotional reaction. You want a "hot" scene to get the reader hot! That can be accomplished by describing FEELINGS rather than organs. Again, what makes a scene "hot" may be the location rather than the friction. You're writing a studio feature, not a porno film. The hottest scene in BODY HEAT is when William Hurt breaks through a window to get to Kathleen Turner. The hottest detail in the sex scene that follows is when he gently removes her panties... graphic but in no way pornographic.

Sex scenes are like any other kind of scene in a film - it's there to give the audience new information about character and story. What is your love scene telling the audience? Why MUST you have it in the script?

Any scene that's not required to tell the story shouldn't be in the script in the first place. That's true for love scenes, too.

Okay, you can uncover the monitor, now!


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