Disclaimer: Please be advised that the following article mentions sexual content, harassment and rape in the context of coordinating on set intimacy in the screen industry and maintaining safe working practices.
If you, or someone you know, is in immediate danger, call 000. Please visit www.respect.gov.au/services for further resources and support.
UK Intimacy Coordinator Ita O’Brien was recently brought to Australia by the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) to explain the On Set Intimacy guidelines and protocols she helped develop and to train practitioners.
The guidelines aim to develop best practice when working with intimacy, scenes with sexual content and nudity in film, TV and theatre.
WA casting director and acting coach Annie Murtagh-Monks attended Ms O’Brien’s Perth sessions in November 2018 and said the training and Ms O’Brien’s technique were extremely valuable. She extended her professional development further with Ms O’Brien in London.
“Having worked recently as an acting coach and casting director on THE HEIGHTS TV series I am acutely aware of just how valuable these guidelines will be on sets, particularly for young actors who we have a duty of care towards,” said Ms Murtagh-Monks.
“Whilst in London I was able to attend additional full-day training courses with Ita to learn the process of intimacy coordination and how to effectively apply the on-set intimacy guidelines.
“Through intensive practical workshops we explored ways to assist actors perform an intimate scene through a process of establishing consensus and agreement on nudity, touching, what intimacy coverings might be required and the choreographing of intimate scenes to effectively bring the vision of the director to the scene.
“It results in safe, repeatable scenes where actors feel safe and comfortable in creating what looks passionate and powerful without the actor feeling in any way violated.
“Ita also invited me to participate and assist her at an evening lesson she gave to 40 student actors and directors at London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art (LAMDA). This additional training was made possible through Professional Development funding from Screenwest.
“I’m grateful to Screenwest for helping me develop my skills further in this area of Intimacy Coordination,” said Ms Murtagh-Monks.
Ask any actor to share their past experiences performing intimate kissing or sex scenes for screen and most will recount how embarrassing and uncomfortable they were.
The #MeToo movement and numerous court cases involving inappropriate behaviour in the screen industry has highlighted the need for more resources to protect actors.
It is the responsibility of those in the film industry, in particular directors and producers, to help actors to perform convincing and effective intimate scenes for film and TV without the risk of being traumatised or vulnerable to abuse.
Production companies around the world are embracing new On Set Intimacy Guidelines and are utilising the assistance of an Intimacy Coordinator.
The On Set Intimacy guidelines and, when needed, an Intimacy Coordinator can help in the planning of an intimate scene, including rape scenes to ensure actors and crew are safe and are not traumatised by the experience.
Listen to Ita O’Brien’s interview with Myf Warhurst on ABC Radio for more information about coordinating intimacy in film, TV and theatre:
About Ita O’Brien
Ita O’Brien is an Intimacy Coordinator and Movement Director for film, television, and theatre.
For the last five years Ita O’Brien has been developing best practice when working with intimacy, scenes with sexual content and nudity in film, TV and theatre – the ‘Intimacy on Set’ guidelines. Ms O’Brien pioneered the role of Intimacy Coordinator, which is gaining adoption in leading production houses, including HBO, Netflix, and the BBC.
Ms O’Brien founded Intimacy on Set to provide trained professional intimacy coordination services to the industry.
Find out more at www.itaobrien.com.
About Annie Murtagh-Monks
Annie Murtagh-Monks is a casting director and acting coach with 25 years’ experience and is now qualified to act as an intimacy coordinator on film or TV shoots.
Annie is happy to meet with local directors and producers to explain the On Set Intimacy guidelines further.
- Ita O’Brien’s On Set Intimacy guidelines
- Australian Government’s Respect Initiative and Resources
- Screen Producer Australia’s Australian Screen Industry Code of Practice – Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Harassment and Bullying Policy
- The Screen Australia Code of Conduct to Prevent Sexual Harassment