Intimacy Coordinators are the new BFFs of movie stars. But what are they actually doing?


The 33-year-old British actress wrote, co-directed and starred in “I May Destroy You”, a 12-part drama about a young writer seeking to rebuild her life after being sexually assaulted.

At Sunday’s ceremony, the critically acclaimed HBO series won the award for Best Miniseries, with Coel also taking home the gong for Best Leading Actress.

In his acceptance speech, Coel paid tribute to the show’s director of privacy, Ita O’Brien, giving her credit for making filming of the series possible, which deals with the themes of consent, assault and trauma.

“Thank you for your existence in our industry, for making the space safe, for creating physical, emotional and professional boundaries so that we can work on exploitation, loss of respect, abuse of power without being exploited or abused in the process, “says Coel.

O’Brien, author of “Intimacy on Set Guidelines” a best practice guide for tackling simulated sex and nudity – has also worked on hit shows such as “Normal People”, “Sex Education” and “Gangs of London”.

What is a privacy coordinator?

The role of the intimacy coordinator is to support the actor in any intimate action on set, such as touch kissing, physical contact, and mock sex. They plan, choreograph, and often liaise with the cast and production crew to make sure those in front of and behind the camera feel safe and comfortable with every aspect and step of the process.

There are several training organizations around the world including Intimacy Directors and Coordinators in the US and Intimacy for Stage and Screen (formerly IDI-UK) in the UK.

And in April of this year, the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) announced plans to launch a registry and provide accreditation for coordinator training programs. privacy, with the aim of creating an industry standard for the role.

O’Brien told CNN in an email that intimacy coordinators must have a thorough knowledge of the actor-director process, understand power dynamics, and must be trained in intimacy pedagogy and coordination. for theater and cinema.

They must “have body and dance skills, body awareness and anatomy to be able to bring clarity to physical dance,” she explained.

At the end of the basic training, they enter a mentoring program which allows them to put their training into practice in the profession before obtaining certification.

Why have studios started using them?

The #MeToo movement and increased awareness of abuse of power in film and television have created a demand for intimacy coordinators on set.

The Harvey Weinstein scandal and other incidents of sexual misconduct exposed an industry in which actor boundaries were often ignored and where there was widespread misconduct both on and off screen.
'Bridgerton' The Intimacy Coordinator's Job Isn't As Sexy As You Think

SAG-AFTRA said in October 2020 that it had strived to create “safer working conditions for members and the industry as a whole” since the years when the actions of Weinstein – one of the most important people. most powerful in the entertainment industry – have arrived. enlighten.

O’Brien said she believes “the role of the privacy coordinator is essential to protect artists in the creation of intimate content.”

She told CNN: “Our process ensures that a safe and professional structure is created, with open communication and agreed consent at all times, within which everyone can bring the best of their professional acting skills to the table. scene.”

Create a secure space

In a recent interview with CNN, Elizabeth Talbot, intimacy coordinator for the hugely popular Netflix series “Bridgerton,” said that a “privacy rider” explains exactly what an actor is willing to do in a movie. scene.

“With the concept of consent that we’re working with, of course, if there’s something where at some point someone’s like, ‘Oh, you know, I don’t want to do that,’ they don’t. ever will, ”she said. “And it’s also my job to stand in front of any director or producer and say, ‘Hey, you know, like they just weren’t comfortable with that. “I’ve been very lucky to work with great directors and producers, so it never happened.”

Bridgerton star Phoebe Dynevor told Grazia magazine she felt
Phoebe Dynevor, who plays Daphne Bridgerton, told Grazia magazine in January this year that she felt “safe” with Talbot on set when she filmed a graphic sex scene.

“It was so awesome, because it was safe and fun: you choreograph it like a stunt or a dance,” she said.

“It’s crazy to me that (a privacy coordinator) hasn’t been there in the past,” Dynevor said. “I’ve done sex scenes before that I can’t believe: that was only five or six years ago, but it wouldn’t be allowed now.”

CNN’s Lisa Respers France contributed to this report.

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