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MeToo Era | Role of Intimacy Coordinators in Movies & TV Shows

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The media industry landscape has changed greatly since the advent of the #MeToo movement, which gained fuel and momentum after director Harvey Weinstein was accused by over 200 women of sexual misconduct. But the #MeToo movement is not merely a tool to help women speak up. It has spread like wildfire, brought about a change in workplace policies and now, the hiring of intimacy coordinators. Keep reading to find out more what they do, and how this has helped to combat issues of sexual nature.

Intimacy Coordinators in Hollywood

This is one of the fastest-growing jobs in Hollywood today, two years after the allegations against Harvey Weinstein.

There is a huge demand for intimacy coordinators or directors to choreograph sex scenes or those containing nudity. This is an important job because the essence of it is to ensure that no one feels exploited, or uneasy.

A key part of this is to also get the consent of the actors or actresses before they perform any act of intimacy. Intimacy coordinators get proper training before they can qualify for this job.

Founded in 2016, Intimacy Directors International is a non-profit organization. Their number of intimacy instructors has increased from 4 to 29 within two years. More than 70 people applied with the organization this year for training.

According to Jessica Steinrock, managing director of ‘IDI’, this is an important on-set job that was previously neglected.

“We have stunt coordinators. We really take care of people in those kind of scenes. But scenes of intimacy have kind of been left a little too alone.”

Different coordinators talk about their work

HBO’S The Deuce actress Emily Meade is one of the stars who started this conversation on the set. She shared that she had always played sexualized characters on screen and there were many times when she felt uncomfortable on set.

According to Meade there’s always a person there to facilitate and protect the cast when a shooting an action stunt or a scene with children or animals. But there was no such person to ensure the same safety during sexual acts.

I went directly to the creators, David and George, and HBO and told them I’d feel much more comfortable if there was some sort of advocate purely for the sexual scenes —

especially on a show where not just my character, but everybody on the show has so much sex.

The show’s Intimacy Coordinator Alica Rodis explains that there is a continual, clear conversation going on throughout filming to ensure everyone is aware and consensual with what is happening.

Getting a request for something outside of the context of the scene can be quite jarring, it can’t just be, “Will you be nude?” It has to be specific to what is happening to the character and with the story.

She says that even the costumes, the outfits, and every piece of clothing is well-thought about and discussed before shooting a sex scene.

If we’re asking people to have genital against genital with just a cloth between them.. is there a sexual health concern there? Because people will have vascular reactions; if our bodies are put in certain positions, we will react.

She carries a kit with everything an actor could need to feel more comfortable; from breath fresheners to antiseptic wipes.

An important step in the right direction

Netflix’s Sex Education shows’ intimacy coordinator O’Brien shared that she sees herself as “a mediator of consent”. She ensures that every touch and every reaction is comfortable and consensual for all parties involved.

The Harvey Weinstein case and #MeToo Movement wave created increased awareness and action on a crucial issue. Associate director of U.S Intimacy Directors International, Claire Warden rightfully said:

Weinstein shone a light which could not be ignored on something that had been for years.

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