CMU School of Drama

Friday, July 28, 2017

What Is a 'Rape Choreographer' and Why Do Film Sets Need One?

jezebel.com: With rape scenes more prevalent in film and television than ever before, “rape choreography” has emerged as a necessary part of set life for actors and directors. Rape choreographer isn’t exactly a desirable position (it takes an emotional toll to reenact sexual assault all day), but because all the best stunt jobs typically go to men (even actresses will often have male stunt doubles), this heavy task often falls to the underserved women of the stunt industry.

2 comments:

Mirah Kozodoy said...

This article does a good job of illuminating the other side of the filming of rape scenes. Audiences often respond badly to rape scenes because they think the scenes are unrealistic or romanticized. It was interesting to read about the other side of the scene, and how the actors and actresses feel as uncomfortable as the viewers. It is difficult to deal with rape in entertainment because it is a topic that needs to be dealt with and acknowledged, but, at the same time, portraying it in fiction runs the risk of it being insensitive and offensive. For this reason, and I think the article touches on this point, it is crucial to have a competent and informed choreographer for rape scenes. The article mentions that some directors believed that there needed to be some element of surprise when filming the scene because they didn’t believe that the actresses would be able to act through the scene. The article explains that the opposite is necessary; the actors need to know exactly what they are doing so that the scene becomes less about them and can focus on the crime that is being committed.

Brandy Zhang said...

This is a really important topic, for like said in the article, rape scenes are often used in a lot of movies as "catalysts" or a major point in the plot with the intention of giving the audience members' emotions a "punch in the face." It is absolutely heart-breaking to hear that some directors believe that hey have to "torture" women on set to make the scenes realistic and impactful. These women should not have been treated this way no matter how much the directors justify their reasoning. There are so many talented female actresses in the industry, and they should be allowed to make their own artistic decisions and choices instead of being forced into playing a part under pressure. This is precisely where the "rape choreographer" should come into play. Pre-choreographed scenes can also be impactful; in fact, it might be able to deliver the message even clearer because of the fact that it is carefully arranged and thoughts are actually put into it. Sure, if the director just unexpectedly asks the actor to "rape" his colleague, then the "victim" will be startled and traumatized, thus the more realistic take. However, this is morally unacceptable and artistically chaotic. It is important in this kind of situations for every detail to be carefully discussed and sorted out beforehand not only for the sake of art, but more importantly for the sake of the actors and actresses involved. This is a sensitive topic no matter what, therefore it makes clarification of the process even more fundamental and essential to the the comfort level of the ones involved. The idea of having female "rape choreographers" will definitely help a lot as well, for women do have a different take subject matter such as this. In summary, I really appreciate how this article sheds light on this topic and I hope the "rape choreographers" can truly claim their place in the industry for those who need them.