SAG-AFTRA has developed new guidelines for the use of intimacy coordinators who oversee sex scenes in films and TV shows.
“These guidelines directly address the problem of sexual harassment on sets,” said David White, the union’s national executive director. “This is a home run for our members and the entire industry. Having intimacy coordinators on sets where simulated sex and other forms of intimacy are present better protects SAG-AFTRA members and all other professionals involved in such scenes.”
Intimacy coordinators serve as advocates and liaisons between actors and production in scenes involving nudity and simulated sex. The union’s new Standards and Protocols provide a framework for their involvement throughout the entire production process and are designed to protect performers and facilitate collaboration with the least disruption to the production. The new guidelines were developed in collaboration with SAG-AFTRA members, representatives from Intimacy Directors International and Intimacy Professionals Association, and intimacy coordinators across the country.
“It has been powerful to collaborate with our industry partners as we work to standardize the protocols for industry coordinators,” SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said. “These protocols and guidelines will help to normalize and encourage the use of intimacy coordinators in productions therefore ensuring the safety and security of SAG-AFTRA members while they work. Intimacy coordinators play a unique role by advocating for performers’ safety and ensuring that a production’s creative needs are met.”
See the new Standards and Protocols here.
“Nudity and simulated sex,” the new protocols state, “often have an important role in the telling of a story, whether in the film, television or interactive world. Although performances in these scenes convey strong feelings and powerful emotions to an audience which can be integral to a storyline, SAG-AFTRA also recognizes the unique vulnerability that arises for performers when performing hyper-exposed work. SAG-AFTRA believes that implementation of the standards and protocols for the use of intimacy coordinators will allow productions to run more efficiently, provide a safety net for performers and establish specialized support that empowers both cast and crew.”
Said White: “These Standards and Protocols reflect input from the full community of Intimacy Coordinators working in the industry today. We are grateful for their input and for the feedback received already by industry allies and partners who have also worked with us, and who have expressed an eagerness for clarity around this important role. There is more work to be done by all of us in the industry, including standardized training and expanding the number of experienced professionals to serve in this role. These Standards and Protocols lay a solid foundation for this growth and for the continued, seismic change needed to eliminate the scourge of sexual harassment in our industry.”
Said Alicia Rodis, associate director and co-founder of Intimacy Directors International: “It is our hope that this process can be widely adopted for an effective and reasonable path for productions to work with a trained intimacy coordinator. With these protocols already field-tested by an ever-growing number of productions and studios, we believe we can make important and welcome industry changes.”
Added Amanda Blumenthal, founder of Intimacy Professionals Association: “I’m excited about the release of SAG-AFTRA’s guidelines for intimacy coordination because I think it signals to the industry just how important it is to do what we can to make sets safer and to protect performers. Additionally, I think that these guidelines strike the right balance between describing the roles and responsibilities of intimacy coordinators while still allowing for flexibility from show-to-show so that the process can be customized to work with each unique production.”
In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the guild has established a Four Pillars of Change initiative and a Code of Conduct “to address the potentially toxic culture and power imbalances that contribute to workplace harassment.”