About intimacy on stage & film

As a stunt coordinator coordinates violent scenes, an intimacy coordinator coordinates intimate scenes on stage & film. An intimacy coordinator is a liason between the director’s vision and the actors’ consent, built on transparency.

Following the #metoo movement in 2017, more and more production companies have engaged professional intimacy coordinators to ensure that best practices are used for stage, movie and television intimacy scenes. In October 2018, HBO adopted the policy of using intimacy coordinators for all of its series and films with intimate scenes. The first production was Sex Education (Netflix January 2019), which hired intimacy coordinator Ita O’Brien. O’Brien, who has developed the Intimacy on Set guidelines, is also the BBC’s first hired Intimacy Coordinator.

An intimate scene can be a kiss, simulated sex, nudity or, for example, childbirth. In Sweden, intimate scenes are coordinated by Malin B. Erikson under mentorship of Ita O’Brien.

photo: Roger Turesson DN

About Malin B. Erikson

Malin B. Erikson is intimacy coordinator, stage director and actor trainer. She holds a B.Sc in Pedagogy from Umeå University, a MA in Actor Training and Coaching from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.  Malin has also studied Directing at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and Dramaturgy at RADA. 
In the spring and summer of 2019 she trained as an intimacy coordinator for stage and film with pioneer Ita O’Brien in London (Intimacy on Set) which has now transitioned to mentorship and collaboration.  

“I want to take Intimacy on Set to Sweden because I want to change the way how we work with intimate scenes in both theatre and film. The method and tools that I can offer actors and directors provide security, transparens and a clear structure and, by extension authentic scenes.”   

Directors UK has launched Intimacy guidelines to assist directors working on nudity and simulated sex scenes. In the section 'Working with Intimacy Coordinators' it can be read:
Intimacy coordinators (ICs) are not hired to take over the direction of critical scenes in a project; they are a department head, akin to a stunt coordinator, and are there to help deliver the director’s vision.

They advocate for safe practice for performers and crew. They:
• Undertake a risk assessment. • Facilitate open discussion around what might be achieved with the performer’s OK.
• Check with performers which actions and language might be ‘triggering’ for them.
• Help to establish personal boundaries and freedoms between performers.
• Work with the director and performers to choreograph specific character body movement that propels the storytelling.
• Can suggest substitute actions and contact, utilising safe practice techniques.
• Keep nudity and simulated sex performance ‘on plan’ and, where changes are required, ensure that these are negotiated.
• Advocate for performers and crew, which also provides some protection to the production compaany and director by demonstrating that duty of care has been taken seriously.

Getting the most out of your collaboration with an intimacy coordinator.
• Review the IC’s previous work and testimonials so that you understand their experience.
• Share the script, and your vision of it, with the IC as early as possible.
• Hold a planning meeting with the IC to discuss tone and objectives; share ideas.
• Introduce them to the other Heads of Department so they can start collaborating.
• As with any screen collaborator, develop and maintain a respectful relationship with them.
• The IC should be present at rehearsals of intimate scenes to help plan blocking and contact.
• The IC and director should work together with the performers.
• On the day of filming, explain to the crew who the IC is so that everyone knows they are authorised to be there and can engage in any safe practices needed on the day.
• On the day of filming, give the IC time and space to make their final ‘safety’ checks – just as a stunt coordinator would. Ensure your assistant director knows to accommodate them.

Click here to download Directors UK’s A Quick Guide for Screen Directors.