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SAG-AFTRA Unveils Guidelines for Intimacy Coordinators

SAG-AFTRA has unveiled the guidelines for intimacy coordinators who are on sets when union members’ work involves nudity and simulated sex.

The union released “Standards and Protocols for the Use of Intimacy Coordinators” on Wednesday, six months after announcing that it would standardize the guidelines for such scenes.

SAG-AFTRA believes that implementation of these standards and protocols will allow productions to run more efficiently, provide a safety net for performers and establish specialized support that empowers both cast and crew,” the union said.

The document specifies that — prior to production — the intimacy coordinator meet with the executive producer/writer and director at a minimum, to discuss details of script breakdown and intimate scenes to determine: 1) degree of nudity, 2) specifics of simulated sex (as applicable), and 3) any other pertinent details.

The guidelines also specify that the coordinate ensures clear communication with actors regarding any nudity, simulated sex or hyper-exposed situation; Meets one-on-one with performers prior to the rehearsal and filming of an intimate scene and confirms consent for the descriptive language to be used in the nudity or simulated sex rider, and any other consideration for the filming of the scene; and ensures continued consent during rehearsals.

The on-set guidelines include review of nudity riders, scene content, modesty garments and barriers with performers, directors and assistant directors; ensures the proper implementation of closed-set protocols and SAG-AFTRA Guidelines; serves as a resource for directors and assistant directors with any specialized movement or choreography to ensure consent and safety while enhancing believability and director vision.

A key provision says the coordinator “ensures continued consent throughout the filming of scene (both consent to what their likeness is seen performing, and how the action is achieved) while minimizing interference in production flow.”

The standards and protocols were developed in collaboration with SAG-AFTRA member leaders and a community of experienced intimacy coordinators, including representatives from Intimacy Directors International and Intimacy Professionals Association.

“It has been powerful to collaborate with our industry partners as we work to standardize the protocols for industry coordinators,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris. “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.”

SAG-AFTRA noted in the announcement that it has been dealing with workplace issues in the wake of the increased attention on sexual harassment in the entertainment industry. It established a “Code of Conduct on Sexual Harassment” last year in instructing its 160,000 members how to deal with the issue.

The union has also included harassment protections in the recent deals for Netflix, non-primetime TV and commercial contracts in addition to a ban on auditions in private residences and hotel rooms.

“These guidelines directly address the problem of sexual harassment on sets,” said SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White. “This is a homerun for our members and the entire industry. Having Intimacy Coordinators on sets where simulated sex and other forms of intimacy are present, better protect SAG-AFTRA members and all other professionals involved in such scenes.”

Amanda Blumenthal, founder of Intimacy Professionals Association, said, “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.”

Download the SAG-AFTRA “Standards and Protocols for the Use of Intimacy Coordinators” here

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