What does an Intimacy Coordinator do?

Is an intimacy coordinator a legal requirement? Is an intimacy coordinator part of the creative team? Does an intimacy coordinator direct or choreograph intimate scenes? Should an intimacy coordinator just monitor for safety? Does the intimacy coordinator work directly with the actors?

Is an intimacy coordinator a legal requirement? 

In some cases the intimacy coordinator has been absorbed into the legal framework of some TV production companies and streaming service providers.  This is primarily because of the part of the job the intimacy coordinator plays in advocating for safe working practices during the creative process.  An intimacy coordinator can make sure that an actor is able to express and work within their personal framework of consent, and as such then lowers the risk of sexual harassment or abuse.  Most companies however don't require an intimacy coordinator to be legally compliant, however, as a principal of safe guarding, it certainly is worth considering booking and intimacy coordinator if you're working with intimate content.

Is an intimacy coordinator part of the creative team? 

Most intimacy coordinators come from a creative background within the film, tv and entertainment industries.  The team at Safe Sets intimacy coordinators, are made up of directors, actors, theatre makers, movement specialists, assistant directors and choreographers.  If you book an Intimacy Coordinator, from Safe Sets, you're going to be working with a creative partner in the space.  The intimacy coordinator looks at the script and will visualise the scenes as described, like a stunt coordinator would.  Intimacy Coordinators liaise with the director, show runner and producer, and will try to understand the artist vision for the production.  They'll start to think about how those scenes might play, what garments, blocking and choreography might come into play.

Does an intimacy coordinator direct or choreograph intimate scenes? 

An intimacy coordinator can choreograph scenes; working to the directorial vision relative to the actors comfort.  If the director is unable to be in the rehearsal, an intimacy coordinator can produce pre-vis snippets for the director to watch, just like the stunt team.  The Intimacy Coordinator can then, with the director, slot the rehearsed scene onto set.  

The intimacy coordinator doesn't normally direct the intimate scenes however.  It's important that the Intimacy Coordinator is a collaborator in the process rather than a director, and supports the relationship between the actors and the director.  

The intimacy coordinator will look at the story telling of the scene, and work with the director and actors to be very specific about hitting physical story telling beats.  They'll play with space and proximity, breath, quality of touch and other factors.  They'll give a 'palette of possibility' from which director and the actors can chose which elements will serve them in the moment. 

Normally an intimacy coordinator will have worked on a few options with the cast to present to the director on set, or will have developed a language with the cast that allows easy modifications, relative to director vision, that still respects their boundaries and sits within pre stipulated contract or rider agreements.

Should an intimacy coordinator just monitor for safety? 

As part of their role an intimacy coordinator will monitor for safety and offer regular check-ins for both cast and crew, however, if they are only monitoring for safety, they are only doing about 3% of their work.  To get the most out of your experience working with an intimacy coordinator, (or on set intimacy coach), you want to engage them during pre production.  Collaborate with your Intimacy coordinator, or intimacy professional throughout the casting process and into rehearsals.  Give the IC the opportunity to work creatively with the director and the cast, and then based on rehearsals allow them to collaborate with the other departments on set.  By working in this way, the intimacy professional on set, is able to make sure the appropriate costume, make-up, props, art, set dec considerations have been addressed and there are no surprises for the actors or the crew on the day.

An integral relationship for the intimacy coordinator, is that between themselves and the AD (Assistant Director's) team.  Consideration for scheduling, maintaining the closed set, managing time at base camp and on set for rehearsals, check-ins and de-roling, are all important part of an intimacy coordinators day and when they work efficiently with the ADs, they can make sure that the intimate scenes slot into the flow of the day, rather than hold up the work. 

Does the intimacy coordinator work directly with the actors?

An effective working relationship with the actors is an integral part of intimacy coordinators' role.  The intimacy coordinator needs to be able to read where trauma or anxiety may sit in an actors body, they need to recognise if the actor needs to take a break, or is feeling overwhelmed.  An intimacy coordinator needs to be able to talk to the actor about their personal comfort and boundaries, what modesty wear they feel comfortable using, or what parts of their bodies they're happy to be in shot.  

The intimacy professional needs to be able to advocate for the actor should that be required.

In addition, it could be argued that the intimacy coordinator's only role at the end of a scene is to take a second to check-in with the actor, perhaps help them de-role, or come back to self.  This part of the job is integral - scenes are shot so quickly, and often there is the pressure to move on, and there is not the space for the director to really help the actors to come back to self and move onto the next scene.  The intimacy coordinator can support the actor if they need it, in this moment.  An IC understands what an actor has to put themselves through to go to where they've just been, and they respect that process.  Every actor is different and every scene is different, a good IC will meet the actors where they're at and provide the support they need.