In the wake of the #MeToo movement in addition to the tensely evolving sexual climate, having someone in a production who can safely navigate intimate spaces for actors and production puts everyone at ease.
What is the Role of an Intimacy Coordinator?
The professional responsibility can extend to helping guide the actor’s experience in becoming more in tune with the sexual limitations of their reality in comparison to their character’s reality. It is also the responsibility of the coordinator to be a presence and voice to advocate for the wellbeing of the actors to the production. Scenes of intimacy must be handled professionally with a constant reinforcement of the scenes being a consensual place of work. We are all there in the moment to tell a fictional story with the highest standards artistry for simulated intimacy, sell the reality and magic that is film, with respect.
LA Resident Intimacy Coordinator AMANDA BLUMENTHAL outlines the responsibilities of a coordinator on her site:
- Facilitating dialogue between the actors and director about their comfort level with the intimate content of a scene
- Preparing actors emotionally for intense intimacy scenes, such as simulated sexual assault, and providing them with support throughout the process, as well as emotional aftercare if needed
- Making sure that during the filming of a scene the boundaries of the actors are not being crossed and that they remain safe throughout, both physically and emotionally
- Providing a safe environment in which actors can do their work
- Ensuring that closed set and SAG nudity guidelines are followed
- Serving as an on-set advocate and ally for LGBTQAI+ cast members
- Choreographing simulated sex scenes to enhance believability
- Coordinating with departments such as costumes and makeup to make sure that the actors are provided with appropriate nudity garments and prosthetics
- Interviewing potential cast members to make sure they are comfortable with the nudity and/or simulated sex required of the role they are auditioning for before they are hired
- Negotiating nudity riders between the show and the actors and their representatives
No one wants to feel unsafe, threatened, or disempowered at work. Inherent in the actor-director relationship is a power dynamic in which actors often feel like they have to do whatever the director asks of them, even if they aren’t comfortable with it. As an actor, saying no to the director is hard, which is where having an intimacy coordinator comes in.https://www.intimacycoordinator.com/
-Amanda Blumenthal, Intimacy Coordinator
Where Mental Health Professionals and Intimacy Coordinators Coincide
My biggest concern is the well being and safety of the actors before, during, and especially after intense and vulnerable scenes to support the transition from being in character to resetting to reality. I provide a unique perspective in this space as a trained clinical sex therapist. I have extensive training and experience in sexuality support, trauma, recovery, communication navigation, and general mental health support. I want to take this clinical experience from office individual, couple, family, and group therapy to television and film. Scenes involving various types of intimacy can be immensely vulnerable and difficult for actors whether it directly involves their personal trauma, life experiences, or not. As a coordinator, even if very little is actively needed from me in a day on set, my presence and accessibility to actors alone can help secure and increase the safety of the actors and the production. This makes the set run more smoothly by putting everyone at ease.
Personal Experience: Past and Present Projects
Currently, I am aspiring to be a certified Intimacy Coordinator for TV and Film through Intimacy Directors International. This is the most recognized and prestigious community of professionals in this line of work committed to providing the appropriate training and support for this field.
As I continue my exposure to professionals in this field, work towards a certification from Intimacy Professionals International, attend intimacy professional workshops, and gain on set experience to be an exemplary model for this professional community, I adhere to the integrity of the IDI’s “Pillars of Safe Intimacy: Rehearsal and Performance Practice”: CONTEXT, COMMUNICATION, CHOREOGRAPHY, and CLOSURE. Intimacy Directors International goes on to explain their pillars here: https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/924101_2e8c624bcf394166bc0443c1f35efe1d.pdf