The profession becomes part of the film industry, but its representatives, including Russian ones, are still arguable about the initiative.
At the end of October 2018, one of the most popular American cable channels HBO, known for the “Game of Thrones” and “Wild West World”, spoke about cooperation with the coordinator of intimate scenes (Intimacy coordinators). The task of the specialist is to create comfortable conditions for the actors during the shooting of erotic episodes, up to coordination and staging. The first TV series, where they tested the innovation, was the “Two”, which tells about the porn industry of the 1970s.
The initiative to hire special instructors came from the actress of the show, but a similar idea has been in Hollywood since the beginning of the MeToo movement. According to the media and representatives of the industry, this decision marks the beginning of large-scale changes in the rules for filming bed scenes, but whether this will spread further to the West is an open question.
How intimate scene coordinators came to HBO and what they do
Approximately between the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018, actress of the series “Two” Emily Meade came to the leadership of HBO with an idea. The 29-year-old girl has been involved in filming intimate scenes since the age of 16, but after a wave of MeToo movement condemning sexual harassment, she thought about the changes.
When tricks appear in a film, stuntmen are invited to shoot. When children or animals participate – accompanying people come with them. However, when it comes to bed scenes, there are no general rules. With such thoughts, Mead turned to HBO with a request to hire a specialist in posing erotic scenes. Soon, the intimate episode coordinator Alicia Rodis appeared on the set of the television network for the first time in history .
In the US, this profession is more or less known in the theater industry, but for the film industry this is an innovation of the era of the movement MeToo. In 2016, Rhodes together with her colleagues Tonia Sina (Tonia Sina) and Siobhan Richardson founded the international organization Intimacy Directors International (IDI) , which advises in the field of cinema and theater on the ethical issues of dealing with actors.
As Sina recalls, intimate episodes were difficult for her: the director asked the actors to improvise instead of rehearsals, and the partners acted at random. For example, during the scene with a kiss, one of the artists used the language, although it was not discussed. In turn, Rodis “almost cracked a tooth” when the actor too persistently kissed her on stage.
Then the girl did not complain, fearing that she would quickly find a replacement among the more accommodating actresses. Since then, little has changed, and inexperienced artists are still afraid to speak out so as not to lose their jobs. According to Rodis, the IDI task ( there are six specialists in the organization , one of whom is a man) is to become a bridge between the actors and the management of the film set.
Stages of work of coordinators of intimate scenes:
- The coordinator reads the script of the film or episode of the series, where the scene is present;
- The coordinator learns from the director what he wants to achieve with this scene, and specifies which parts of the body the actors will have to touch and whether they will be dressed;
- The coordinator organizes a conversation between the director and actors of the intimate scene, and then speaks with each participant of the episode separately in case he wants to talk privately. For example, a specialist clarifies whether an actor has sexually transmitted diseases (according to Rhodes, sometimes artists do not talk about it);
- The coordinator communicates with the costume designer and makeup artist, studying the characters’ clothes in the scene and specifying which “barriers” will be used (for example, a silicone pad so that the actors do not touch their genitals);
- The coordinator invites the executive producer to a rehearsal of the scene. As Rodis says, they are often not present on the record, and the actors take it as an indication that they are doing something unpleasant;
- The coordinator is present at all the rehearsals of the scene and makes sure that unwanted improvisations do not happen when the actor does something that was not discussed earlier.
Rodis acknowledges that not all directors are positive about her work. Having an intimate scene coordinator involves additional discussions with actors and rehearsals, and this takes time and money.
Rhodes did not face scandals, although sometimes she had to “bargain” with directors. For example, one of them wanted to bare the actress’s breasts, and Rhodes, based on the preferences of the girl, suggested concentrating on the other or refusing a nipple demonstration.
Intimate Scene Coordinator Claire Warden (Claire Warden) says that the need for her services has grown over the past few years. Like Rodis, she hopes that the next generation of actors, screenwriters and directors will have a new attitude to the concepts of respect and harmony on stage thanks to the coordinators of intimate scenes. “This leads us to an even freer and safer road to create deep, credible and risky stories.”
How do actors face pressure for intimate scenes?
“Film production and theater can turn into the Wild West if there are no rules or associations that would dictate them,” says Rodis, pointing out the lack of general rules for filming intimate scenes. If you recall the story of Hollywood, the statement becomes difficult to deny.
Even before the start of filming, American actors sign a list of conditions, including participation in intimate scenes, but the document is drafted in general terms. It happens that under the pressure of the performers of the roles they are persuaded to do something that was not prescribed in the list.
A prime example is the rape scene in The Last Tango in Paris, with Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider. The picture of the Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci was released in 1974, when 19-year-old Schneider began her career. In 2007, she admitted that she was not dedicated to the details of shooting the scene – the girl did not know about the plans of the hero Brando to use butter as a lubricant.
“I felt humiliated, even raped,” the actress recalled. Up until his death from cancer in 2011, Schneider did not communicate with Bertolucci, who in 2013 stated that he deliberately did not dedicate her to the details of the scene. “I wanted her to respond as a girl, not as an actress,” said the director.
Even the episodes with kisses are not easy for everyone. Harrison Ford and Sean Young’s kiss in Blade Runner was jokingly called the “hate scene”, as actors often quarreled and refused to cooperate. Emma Watson and Rupert Grint were shy of a fragment with a kiss in the second part of Deathly Hallows, since they spent most of their childhood together and considered each other as close friends.
Difficulties with rehearsals of intimate scenes occur at least in the theater, although in recent years in the United States began to struggle with such behavior. The turning point was 2016, when the head of the Chicago Theater Profiles Theater was accused of regular harassment to subordinates for decades. Shortly after, the theater closed, and the local theater community formulated a set of standards to combat inappropriate behavior. Similar initiatives have emerged in Washington, Maryland and Virginia, which, among other things, advocate collaboration with intimate scene coordinators.
According to Rodis, in the theater she often worked with male actors. Many of them worry that they unwittingly cross the personal boundaries of the actress. The girl remembers the case when she rehearsed with the actors a slap in the face and a kiss. When it was time for a kiss, the performers of the roles hesitated and turned to Rodis. They rehearsed the episode, and “after that, everything looked beautiful, ” the specialist says .
How intimate scene coordinators can help movie studios in MeToo era
The reason why the HBO television network has become a pioneer of intimate scene coordinators in Hollywood is not only about the desire to create comfortable conditions for actors. Star projects of the company, including Game of Thrones and World of the Wild West, are filled with bed episodes, and the TV network has long been ridiculed for a large amount of erotic content. All this, coupled with the activation of the actor community against the background of the MeToo movement, prompted the HBO to make a decision.
In the summer of 2018, Netflix was mocked by a new policy that allegedly forbids employees to look at each other for more than five seconds and ask their colleagues for a phone number. The source of information came from the tabloids, and the company did not confirm or deny the data, only stating that “they are proud of their training against harassment.”
Whether the media is truthful or not, but the reputation of Netflix MeToo did cause great damage. Due to the numerous allegations of sexual harassment, the company dismissed Kevin Spacey, the lead actor of its project “House of Cards”. After that, the authors of the show had to rewrite the script and re-shoot the scenes without the participation of the main star.
With the arrival of Rodis on the set of “Two”, where because of the plot of the show there are much more intimate scenes, the actors regularly use breath fresheners and antiseptic wipes. At the request of a specialist, they wash their hands after each take, so as not to bring discomfort to the partner. Attention to the process comes to the fact that during the shooting of the scene of oral sex, Rodis placed a pillow under the knees of the actress so that she did not stand on the cold floor.
As the coordinator assured, if the actor starts to suffer from stress or other psychological inconveniences, she will notice this and try to solve the problem.
David Simon, the creator of the series “The Wire Over” and “Two”, believes in its effectiveness. In an autumn interview, he stated that he would hardly ever work without a coordinator of intimate scenes. As follows from media information, Rodis will participate in the filming of all HBO projects, where there are erotic scenes. Including in the upcoming series based on the comic book “Keepers”.
As a coordinator of intimate scenes are in the Russian and foreign cinema.
After the autumn news on the collaboration of Rodez and HBO, the Indian edition of The Quint (a Bloomberg partner) published an article on whether co-ordinators of intimate scenes are needed in Bollywood (the local equivalent of Hollywood). The text says that although the erotic films in Indian films are much less than in American films, an expert on the set could reduce the number of improvisations during such scenes. And this would help to avoid potential scandals, it follows from the material.
Indian director Anerag Basu (“Detective Jagga”, “The Temptation of a Married Woman”) wondered how the coordinator of intimate scenes would help the process of filming them. According to the director, for such episodes, first of all, you need to establish contact with the actors and the staff of the film set. Actress Cohen Mitra considered the idea dubious, pointing out that “two adults can cope on their own.” However, among those interviewed representatives of the industry there were also those who supported the HBO initiative.
In early 2018, the British union of actors, directors and models of the UK Equti reported on possible plans to create the rules and conditions for filming intimate scenes. For example, in the code of articles it was suggested to stipulate in advance whether there would be a kissing kissing in the episode.
In response to Equti’s proposals, actor Andy Serkis called the initiative “censorship of creativity”, pointing out that actors should independently agree on the details of intimate scenes.
Most of the Russian actors, directors and film studios contacted by did not respond or refused to talk about intimate scene coordinators, despite repeated written and telephone inquiries. In several cases, representatives of film studios called the initiative “good”, but asked not to mention their names.
Janik Fayziev, director and general director of KIT Film Studio, part of Gazprom-Media, agreed to comment on the HBO initiative. According to the author, in the Russian industry there is not much experience in filming intimate scenes, so no science has yet been formed. Nevertheless, Fayziev added that the studios are striving to create comfortable conditions for shooting erotic scenes.
I am even sure that there are no similar specialists in Russia who can ensure the right approach. On the other hand, our actors have such a high professional responsibility and body culture that there is no difficulty on the set if this scene is justified and works to uncover the image of the characters. If there is a constraint, comfortable conditions are always created for the artists: special transparent lingerie, only the operator and the director remain on the court.
The director added that the current professionals are able to shoot intimate scenes on their own, without resorting to the help of third-party specialists.
If this is a real director, a real cameraman – they don’t care what object they have in the frame: a vase, a still life, an artist or a naked artist. It’s like asking the doctor if his patient is exciting. From the narrow-minded point of view, one might think: “How can this be so! Get naked in the frame ”, but at the site, working as a professional team, the artists approach the shooting of the proximity scene with the same level of responsibility as any other complex dramatic scene.
Irina Smirnova, the general producer of the Russian film company, which makes TV series for Russia-1, NTV and STS, also agreed to answer the questions of . Smirnova began to explain her position with a glance at the American anti-sexual harassment movement.
[What is happening now in the film industry and not only in America is a logical continuation of the MeToo movement. […]
Men are in a situation where they can be accused of misbehavior, rape, ultimately. BelieveAllWomen’s advocates insist that a woman will not unreasonably blame a man. The reality is that there are many such charges. There are clashes between these two polar camps, and the film industry is no exception.
Smirnova explained that the United States and Russia should not be compared in the context of the film industry, since overseas relations between film crews are governed more by rules, and in Russia they are based on education and internal understanding.
The initiative of Western colleagues to introduce a specialist intimate scenes issued not only to protect women, but also not to get involved in legal proceedings and to protect everyone, including men. People stopped to distinguish what happens in the frame, and that – in real life. […]
The American film industry is much more regulated. All more or less significant aspects are recorded in writing, and lawyers are following the rules. In Russia, relationships within film crews or between actors are more based on common sense and agreement. We hope more for upbringing, and not for a strict standard, for understanding what is good and what is bad.
In Russian cinema, there is less money and stars that are allowed to do everything. Harvey Weinstein could individually make any decisions, ensure a career and guarantee success. Fortunately, in Russia this is almost nonexistent. We have a too small pool of actors of a real high level, so that they have to endure harassment from producers or directors for the sake of a good role. If an artist has charisma and acting skills, if viewers want to watch them, then stars will be made of them without asking for anything in return.