Intimacy Coach or Intimacy Coordinator?  What do you need?


What’s the difference between an Intimacy Coordinator and an Intimacy Coach?  Safe Sets are Intimacy Coordinators, but we’re often referred to as Intimacy Coaches…. This blog higlights the key differences.

Intimacy Coordinators and Intimacy Coaches are not the same thing!

An Intimacy Coordinator is the title for the people who work in the entertainment industry and assist with the creation and implementation of scenes that contain intimate content and/or nudity.  An Intimacy Coach is a professional who works with real life couples and looks at their intimate relationships. 

Safe Sets is a company that is made up of intimacy coordinators whose practice is based in the field of entertainment, whether that background is in theatre, dance, TV and film or even in the education of the arts, it is from that foundation that they’ve become intimacy coordinators.   They focus on the physical story telling, the choreography, consent and boundaries and actor process.  The coordinator part exists, as it’s the intimacy coordinators’ additional responsibility to coordinate the many departments that are integral to the safe and effective creation of intimate scenes.  They collaborate with the AD team, the wardrobe department, the art department, the producers, as well as the actors and directors.  They make sure that on the day of the shoot or performance everyone is on the same page.

That’s not to say there aren’t Intimacy Coordinators who do have a background in Intimacy Coaching, Sexology, Relationship and Consent Councillors, who may have trained to become very effective Intimacy Coordinators, but even they will then differentiate between their work as Intimacy Coaches and Intimacy Coordinators.

But why does it matter what we call you - coach - coordinator - who cares?

Why it matters to Intimacy Coordinators that they’re referred to as coordinators and not coaches, is the word ‘coach’, when following ‘intimacy’ implies that the person with that title is going to ‘coach’ the actors on how to be personally intimate.  

There are many ‘coaches’ on set, and they do ‘coach’ actors - we have voice coaches, and dialect coaches, and movement coaches and they will ‘coach’ the actors to work with their bodies and voice.  Intimacy Coordinators are like Stunt Coordinators, they work with the actors to simulate a physical action, not to actually do it.  A Stunt coordinator doesn’t ‘coach’ the actors to take a real punch in the face, in the same way an Intimacy Coordinator doesn’t ‘coach’ the actors how to have real sex.  They both Coordinate the people in the space to simulate the action so that it appears real and tells the story of the characters, not the personal story of the actors.

 Also, in a new position on set, when the crew see the title ‘Intimacy Coach’ they can understand this to mean intimacy coach in the private space of two people.  They may be inclined to approach the coordinator and ask them for sex tips or advice on their love life.  From my perspective as a professional in the work place, I find this unprofessional and bordering on Sexual Harassment as I’m offended by it.  I’m employed to work sensitively with the actors and directors, and it’s difficult to do my job when the crew are joking that I’m there to tell them how to give their partners ‘the time of their lives’.

In South Africa, like the rest of the world, Intimacy Coordination is an emerging field, and right now, even though productions are beginning to really push the boundaries, and ask more and more of their actors in terms of simulated sex and nudity, many productions aren’t hiring Intimacy Coordinators to take care of their actors.  We are seeing more and more in the press reports about really intense simulated sex scenes and nudity, and often in the articles it states that the production worked with ‘Intimacy Coaches’.

Maybe they did, but they didn’t work with Safe Sets Intimacy Coordinators, because they’d know not to call us Intimacy Coaches!  

If you're a producer or an actor working in South Africa, and you want to work with intimate content safely and respectfully, please do reach out. We have flexible rates so that we can support your project irrespective of your budget. Don't just have us in for a chat and then hope for the best, have us with you on set, and keep your Sets Safe!

Current productions that have used Safe Sets Intimacy Coordinators available to view in South Africa are - Troukoors on ShowMax, Raised by Wolves on HBOMax (ShowMax), Lingashoni for 1Magic on DStv, Brave New World Peacock (ShowMax) - (while working for Intimacy on Set), Umbuso for Mzansi Magic on DStv, The Estate on SABC3, Daryn's Gym on eVOD & Atlantis on eVOD