Yesterday, news broke that Frankie Shaw, the creator/writer/star/showrunner of the popular Showtime comedy series “SMILF” had been recently investigated over misconduct allegations stemming from her handling of nude scenes involving actress Samara Weaving. While ABC Studios (the folks behind the series) concluded that Shaw wasn’t in the wrong, the topic of how nude scenes are handled in TV and film became a talking point on social media, with many coming forward with stories of how bad it can get on set.
And according to one of the former producers for AMC’s massive hit series “The Walking Dead” and the classic FX series “The Shieid,” this isn’t just a problem that Shaw and the folks at “SMILF” are experiencing. This is a systemic problem that affects every show in production, as no one is trained on how to properly conduct nude/sex scenes.
“Unfortunately, TV showrunners & directors receive no training on how to properly prepare and film nude or sex scenes so that actors are safe,” tweeted Glen Mazzara. “I have asked around and as far as I know, this is never discussed in film schools. The DGA & WGA provide no training. I don’t believe SAG-AFTRA is informs people ahead of time what their rights are but I could be wrong about that.”
He continued, “Often, the people in charge leave it to someone else to ‘work it out.’ Actors very often have to show up on the day and do so while they are on the spot. This works against women. If they object or ask questions, they are pressured to do the scene & stop holding things up. The stories I have [heard] — including one today — are unbelievably gross. I have tried to convene a panel at the WGA or at least discuss it four times over the years but no one wants to talk about it. Everyone tells me I’m making a big deal.
Mazzara goes on to explain that he’ll be hosting a panel about this at the upcoming ATX TV Festival, which will feature actresses and writers discussing how to conduct nude scenes on set in an appropriate, and respectful, manner.
“The fact that people are too embarrassed to discuss a sex scene ahead of time is outrageous,” he added. “People need to be kept safe. We prep stunts. Sex scenes are no different. Crew safety is on every showrunner.”
Mazzara concluded, “Showrunners, get your shit together.”
As for “SMILF,” the fallout seems to be fairly minimal, all things considered. With Shaw in the clear, the only major change to the series (other than the increased safety on the set) is the departure of Weaving, who won’t be back if the series gets picked up for a third season. (The second season has yet to premiere.)
Shaw, herself, released a statement (via THR) saying, in part, “I work daily to create an environment in which everyone should feel safe, and in which I can continue to grow as a leader and manager. I am now and always have been open to hearing and addressing all concerns and issues that fall within my control. It pains me to learn that anyone felt uncomfortable on my set. I sincerely hope we can work together to resolve any and all issues, as I am committed to creating a workplace in which all people feel safe and heard.”
“SMILF” returns to Showtime on January 20, 2019.
Unfortunately, TV showrunners & directors receive no training on how to properly prepare and film nude or sex scenes so that actors are safe. https://t.co/49KgSjxupU
— Glen Mazzara (@glenmazzara) December 18, 2018