In Hollywood, sex scenes under high surveillance with intimacy coordinators

On the set, new professionals plan intimate scenes and assess the consent of the actresses. In full swing, this profession has become essential.

The explosion of the #MeToo movement five years ago not only unleashed an avalanche of accusations in Hollywood, it also sparked a minor revolution with the rise of “intimacy coordinators” to oversee sex scenes. In full swing, this new profession has become essential in many scenarios. But the industry remains undermined by power struggles and the fear of saying no.

Since the revelations in 2017 about the predatory behavior of the almighty producer Harvey Weinstein, accused by more than 90 women of harassment, sexual assault or rape, Hollywood has done some soul searching. On set, new professionals plan the sex scenes, evaluate the consent of the actresses and provide them with equipment so that their dignity is respected. New York-based intimacy coordinator Claire Warden sees a “amazing differencefrom #MeToo. Previously, “there was a lot of resistance from the industry, from directors, some actors, producers“, he tells AFP. According to her, between 60 and 80 of these coordinators currently work in the United States. And the Intimacy Directors and Coordinators (IDC) program, of which she is a part, is training more and more newcomers.

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Boost given by HBO

Film professionals are beginning to make their aggiornamento”,after years of screaming into the void and doing our best to educate the industry“, she breathes. Before 2017, intimacy coordinators worked primarily in theaters and were conspicuous by their absence in film and television, where often isolated actresses relied on the wardrobe department to cobble together props to cover their genitals during sex scenes. . But after the Weinstein earthquake, HBO hired an intimacy coordinator for its series. the twoabout the New York porn industry of the 1970s. And its screenwriter David Simon announced that he would never work without her again.

The powerful chain, producer of planetary successes such as Game of Thrones or sex and the city, then made the presence of an intimacy coordinator mandatory in all its series. Now, specialized companies offer thongs without attachments, silicone accessories and other adhesives adapted to different complexions or skin colors. Something to put young actresses at ease, like Sydney Sweeney. In a recent interview with the magazine varietythe 25-year-old artist, headlining the series Euphoriaexplained not havingI never felt ashamedthanks to the privacy coordinators. “It is a very safe environment. I am very lucky to arrive at a time when so much effort is put into this process“, estimated. “Even when we agree to something, they ask us on the spot the same day: “Have you changed your mind? Because you can.” It’s very good.»

Fear of being a “diva”

However, not everything is rosy, because the industry has a long way to go when it comes to consent. Actress Christina Ricci, star of the series Yellowjackets, revealed to variety that a production had already threatened the “to sueif he refused to participate in a sex scene. “The actresses did not start speaking in 2017“, summarizes Claire Warden. “We had been talking for a long time and no one was listening to us. The industry was really trying to drown out these voices.“. According to her, sayingNope“remains perceived as a posture”dangerous» by many women in cinema. “We are conditioned (…) to believe that you will be called a diva. That you won’t have a job, that no one will work with you, that you’re not involved enough or brave enough.»

Some coordinators also have to fight against the idea that their presence could harm the creativity of the shoots, or nail other professionals to the pillory of “cancel culture”. “Given the Harvey Weinstein story, many people feared being perceived as predatory.“Explains Jessica Steinrock, coordinator followed by more than 500,000 subscribers on TikTok. The job has nothing to do with human resources procedures, she insists. It’s more about reducing risk and improving performance in front of the camera, just like there are stunt coordinators. According to her, “the exponential growth (of the sector) in recent years has been painful for many, but really profitable in general.»

no quick fix

In the spring, Netflix hired actor Frank Langella from the series The fall of the House of Usher after accusations of sexual harassment of an actress. In a column on the specialized site Deadline, she denounced the instructions “absurd” Y “ridiculousof the intimacy coordinator, who had indicated the exact place where she should touch her partner’s leg. “Shakes instinct and spontaneity.“, he was outraged. this reaction”stems from the unwillingness to consider the consent of the otherreplies Claire Warden. “It comes from a toxic feeling that everything is because of you.»

More generally, privacy coordinators cannot fight all the abuses revealed by the Weinstein case, continues her colleague Jessica Steinrock. The Hollywood mogul was acting off the set. “The way we handle intimate scenes will have an impact on how to consider consensus, how to prepare, how actresses conceive of the right to dispose of their bodies.“, She believes. “But privacy coordinators are not a panacea for all the bullying and abuse of power committed in the movie industry over the past century.»


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