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Hollywood intimacy coordinator reveals the one part of the job nobody knows about
Featured Image Credit: Lionsgate

Hollywood intimacy coordinator reveals the one part of the job nobody knows about

They have opened up about the role

In recent years, intimacy coordinators have become more common in the film and TV industry, and there's much more to the role than people may think.

At times we've see actors squirming in interviews when it comes to explaining their intimate scenes with co-stars, and they often share how they cope with the inevitably awkward moments.

To help overcome these uncomfortable scenes, productions hire intimate coordinators to help prep and guide actors through filming.

With sex scenes seemingly becoming more intense throughout the years, with TV shows such as Game of Thrones and films like Saltburn, it's easy to see why intimate coordinators have become an industry standard.

Recently Martin Freeman, 52, and Jenna Ortega, 21, hit headlines due to a controversial sex scene in their new flick Miller's Girl.

The movie follows the story of 18-year-old student, Cairo Sweet (Ortega), and her teacher Jonathan Miller (Freeman). The two actors engage in a steamy scene as characters from a story that Sweet has written rather than their characters in the film.

Many viewers said they felt 'uncomfortable' watching the scene due to the age difference between the two stars.

Martin Freeman and Jenna Ortega in Miller’s Girl.

However, the on-set intimacy coordinator, Kristina Arjona, spoke out in defense of the film, and shared how she worked with the actors to cultivate the scene.

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) subsequently tightened up its Standards and Protocols for the use of intimacy coordinators - particularly when it comes to confidentially.

As per Deadline, a SAG-AFTRA spokesperson said: "While there may be a reason for an intimacy coordinator to discuss the ins-and-outs of a risqué scene, it will not be allowed to happen without the actor's and production's permission.

"Intimacy coordinators should maintain the confidentiality of an actor’s work and experience in performing highly sensitive scenes unless they have the actor’s permission to publicly share this information."

They added that 'public release' of the 'scene work' without the actor's consent is 'unacceptable'.

Intimacy director Ita O’Brien, who worked on Normal People, I May Destroy You and recent BBC drama Men Up, has spoken out in support of the new SAG-AFTRA guidelines.

She told Metro: "The best practice as an intimacy practitioner is, absolutely, the standard process that you honor and support the production, work with the production’s publicist and the press releases that they give out, and that’s what you adhere to as the intimacy practitioner.

Viewers were left disturbed by the intimate scene in Miller's Girl.

"For me, that’s really a clear process to journey through."

O’Brien, founder of Intimacy On Set, also noted that the role actually continues after the production has been released to the public.

She explained: "It’s as important how we continue that support when the production goes out into the world and [generates] a response from an audience.

"We’re part of that ongoing support in really making sure that a cast member is [helped] and [overseeing] how the intimate content is spoken about and - most importantly - that it is absolutely still following that intention to be confidential, to honor the production, honor how it’s spoken about and what is spoken about."

O’Brien added: "If something goes out to press, and really hits the zeitgeist with the general public, then the various bits that the general public can pick up on, the kinds of questions that are levelled at a cast member, can also be challenging - particularly if it’s about some of the content that we’ve been part of."

According to O'Brien, for intimacy coordinators that means 'working with the publicists to take care of the cast just as much during that bit, so that they’re making sure that they’re not over-sexualised or objectified'.

Topics: Film and TV, Sex and Relationships