After talking to a few different performers I was really surprised by just how many don’t understand the rules.
You can’t just grab a camera and start filming a scene without first knowing the rules. These rules are set by the government and can land you in some serious trouble if you aren’t careful.
If you make your own content, and yes this includes “trades”, always remember not only to check the other parties STD test but get a copy of their photo ID, as well as have them sign a model release. These things are legally required for every scene!
If you don’t have a way to copy their ID, simply take a photo of their ID with your camera. Make sure the ID is 100% visible (not blurry) and then take a 2nd picture of the performer holding that very same ID.
Everybody must be over 18. We all know that, but did you know that you also must be able to prove it? That’s where the ID comes in.
A valid ID is any US-based driver’s license or state-issued ID that is not expired. A valid US passport will also work. These are the only forms of ID that will work and again it must be valid – as in not expired.
Is your scene partner a US Citizen?
You can only work with people who are legally allowed to work in the United States. The last thing you want to do is piss off the government regarding immigration issues. I know you think immigration is the last thing you need to think about when it comes to making a scene, but in reality, it’s one of the things that can get you nailed the quickest.
To work in the United States you need to be a citizen or have a green card. If the person you are working with isn’t a US citizen, I would pass on the scene. Not worth risking getting the immigration department to come down on you.
Do you have a signed model release for that scene you just filmed?
You can not release any scene that you don’t have a signed model release for. Even if you have shot 23 other scenes with that person before. You must have a signed model release for every scene you do. If you do 17 scenes with that person, then you need to have 17 different model releases signed. I know that sounds stupid, but it’s the law and there are no exceptions. If you don’t have a form, simply Google BLANK MODEL RELEASE FORM.
Now we have one last thing you need to consider and that is the avoidance of obscenity. Having sex on camera isn’t illegal when meant for commercial distribution, however, anything that could be considered “obscene” should be avoided because obscenity is illegal.
So what is obscene?
That’s not always so easy to define but as those who have actually gone to prison in the past have learned, there are a few things that are more obviously obscene than others and you’ll probably want to avoid.
- No rape – even if just simulated. This includes no forcing or coercing someone to have sex when they clearly don’t want to
- No shots with the appearance of pain or degradation
- No peeing unless in a natural setting (field, roadside)
- No dead bodies – even if just pretend
- No incest which means two people closely related such as mother/father/brother/sister/grandparent/first cousins
Just because nobody has gone to jail lately doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened before and won’t happen again. Don’t be a fool and think the next wave of arrests aren’t coming. If you are foolish enough to think it won’t happen again, you are on crack.
Think twice before filming a scene this is a little risky. Don’t risk your freedom!
DISCLAIMER: I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. If you need legal advice, please seek that of al licensed, practicing attorney. That advice which I give today is based on my own personal experience in life and may not be suitable for you. If you are a little unsure about anything discussed here in this post, consult with an industry lawyer and discuss your options with him or her.