Inside The Little-Known Job That Hollywood Relies On

In any given Hollywood movie scene, the goal tends to be for the interplay between performers to seem natural, rather than awkward or clunky. This can be a particular concern with regards to nudity or sex scenes, which can make even acting veterans feel bashful, uncomfortable, or, tragically, unsafe. This is the sphere of individuals called intimacy coordinators. Their job is to tackle any concerns.

As the website of intimacy coordinator Amanda Blumenthal puts it, the crux of the role is "ensur[ing] that the show's creative vision is realized and that filming proceeds smoothly while providing the actors with a safe environment in which to do their best work."

Blumenthal goes on to explain that she has served as an intimacy coordinator on such high-profile productions as "Euphoria" and "The L Word: Generation Q." Her work can begin before a potential actor even accepts their role, interviewing those auditioning to be sure they are comfortable with any simulated sex or nudity it may entail.

As The Hollywood Reporter states, the role of intimacy coordinator is a relatively new one in TV and movies, and trailblazers like the United Kingdom's Ita O'Brien, who has a background in acting and dance herself, have allowed it to rise in prominence. Movement coordination led to her Intimacy On Set course, which began in 2017.

The crucial role of the intimacy coordinator

Comparable courses exist in the United States too, per The Hollywood Reporter, and are beginning to be backed by a more robust form of cultural training because, as intimacy director Sasha Smith told the outlet, "I'm always an advocate for diversity and inclusion ... not just BIPOC but also disabled bodies and trans bodies, because we're all humans who deserve to have these stories."

Amanda Blumenthal's website states that her vital work includes being sure that the production sticks to SAG-AFTRA's regulations, ensuring there are lines of communication between the director and performers, choreographing aspects of such scenes where needed, safeguarding the wellbeing of performers throughout a scene, and being sure that LGBTQIA+ voices in the production are heard.

Intimacy Directors and Coordinators (the IDC) has established the standards and practices that the industry adheres to, between Intimacy Coordination for TV and Film and Intimacy Direction for the Theatre. Through a range of workshops, the IDC trains new professionals in the field, ensuring that they work towards the organization's aim of "a world in which intimacy is a vital and joyful part of storytelling, and all artists are able to work consensually, bringing their whole selves to the work and honoring one another's individual humanity."