As the boundaries are pushed, the need for clear guidelines is growing. With over twenty years of experience on set I provide protocol, integrity and encouragement for actors and crew working with intimate content.
Intimacy Coordinator (IC) in film, TV & live performance collaborates with cast & director to choreograph scenes that contain intimacy, nudity, simulated sex and sexually charged (consensual or non-consensual) touching. Increasingly screen productions also engage Intimacy Coordinators to work with actors and production when filming emotionally challenging content. Intimacy Coordinators are becoming an integral part of the filming process not just for preventing harm, but more for creating the space for everyone to do their best work. The work can be compared to a stunt coordinator who deals with fight scenes; but here an IC choreographs and coordinates scenes of intimate or sexual nature, advocating for the safety of cast and crew when working with intimate content.
INTIMACY can be any moment of contact by a Performer or between Performers appearing nude or semi-nude, during a scene or the context may be sexual (such as kissing, simulated sex, masturbation etc.), sexual violence (such as rape, sexual assault, BDSM etc.) or sensual and non-sexual (such as touch from a parent to a child or a carer to a patient etc).
CONSENT can only be freely given if the Performer has full knowledge of the action required beforehand. Any form of coercion negates the Performer’s consent. “Yes” means nothing if “No” is not an option. The individual has a right to their body and therefore consent is reversible. At the end of the day everyone should feel proud of the work created together. Consent should extend to all production crew including those working in post-production.
The work begins with breaking down the script, checking boundaries & nudity clause. This is followed by discussions with the producer & director and collaboration with Head of Departments. Together with actors and directors we create a physical structure for the scene which supports the storytelling. The aim is to provide safe, quick and fun way to create intimate scenes without crossing personal boundaries.
I regularly hold presentations and workshops in the industry and am currently in consultation with various projects in pre-production. This is a new area of work in film & TV and I’m happy to discuss things further over the phone or in person if you should be interested.
The Finnish Film Foundation has published Intimacy guidelines for audiovisual productions in October 2020. I’m excited to have been consulted on these Guidelines-for-intimate-scenes.
In August 2021, The Audiovisual Producers Finland together with Actors’ Equity Finland and Finnish Film Foundation, asked me to help publish a guide to Working with an Intimacy Coordinator.
RECENTLY IN MEDIA:
In this article in a Finnish lifestyle magazine Kotiliesi (09/2022), Sanna Puhto writes about the role of the intimacy coordinator and interviews me about my work and about introducing the role in Finland three years ago.
Valentina Mantyla wrote an article for Kelaamo (04/22) about intimate scenes and first-time directors. You can read my tips here.
In spring 2022, Finnish National Opera & Ballet collaborated for the first time with an intimacy professional. Here’s an article about my work in Salome with FNOB.
In this article (11/2021) here I’m interviewed with a Producer Hanna Virolainen on the protocol and making of intimate scenes in ‘Den Svavelgula himlen’. Here’s my interview (10/2021) about the recently published guide for working with an Intimacy Coordinator. Image published a wonderful article (06/2021) on movie kisses and interviewed me and some fantastic colleagues from behind and in front of the camera. Finland’s largest cinema magazine Episodi featured intimacy coordination (5/21) and wrote a fantastic article here on the safety requirements and the creative input of the IC’s. In this article in the theatre industry magazine Teatteri&Tanssi+Sirkus, I was discussing the need for intimacy education across the performance arts. I was asked to comment on the level of harassment and bullying on set and the research conducted. I was recently interviewed about my work at Finnish national broadcasting company YLE here and at Hufvudstadsbladet here, at Svenska Yle here as well as in the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat on the New Role in Film & TV: and in the current affairs magazine Suomen Kuvalehti: Finland’s first Intimacy Coordinator; in the arts & culture trade union paper Meteli: On Intimacy Coordinating: on Post MeToo in actor training on a UCA blog and on the Role of the intimacy coordinator in a Finnish newspaper Savon Sanomat.
My interview on illusions of intimacy with Katja Ståhl at Radio Nostalgia, now available here as a podcast.
Conversations about Intimacy Episode 6 on Intimacy Coordination (Intiimikeskusteluja) in conversation with Saara Kotkaniemi.
Visiting at the Helsinki International Film Festival Love & Anarchy and Yle/ Puoli Seitsemän in September 2020, watch this.
Listen here at Yle Vega where I’m visiting in July 2020 and talking about intimacy coordinating with Melissa Haga:
Visiting at Yle/ 8-minuuttia in July 2020 and talking about safety on set with Lauri Miikkulainen, watch this.
INTIMACY GUIDELINES WORLDWIDE:
AUSTRALIA: Here are Intimacy Guidelines for Stage and Screen by Equity Australia.
CANADA: Here is the Best Practices Guide by ACTRA Toronto.
FINLAND: Here are Guidelines for Intimate Scenes in Camera Work by The Finnish Film Foundation.
NEW ZEALAND: Here are Intimacy Guidelines for Stage and Screen by Equity New Zealand.
SOUTH AFRICA: Here are Protocols for Intimate Content in TV, Film and Associated Media by IPSA et. al.
UNITED KINGDOM: Here you can find a Guide for Working with Intimacy by Directors UK.
USA: Here are Standards and Protocols and resources for intimacy set out by SAG-AFTRA.
Intimacy Coordinators come from various different backgrounds. Here you can find a video with an intimacy coordinator Ita O’Brien (UK) demonstrating how she works with actors on set.
Article in HowlRound 01/2020 on The art and craft of the intimacy practitioner. Article in The Guardian 10/2019 on Intimacy Coordinator’s role: Safe sex on set; the Rise of the intimacy coaches. Article on Intimacy Coordination in VanityFair 08/2019: Intimacy Coordinators are changing the sex scenes for good.
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