"Having an IC onboard to support any project should feel like a sigh of relief!"
What is an Intimacy Coordinator?
Intimacy Coordinators are hired to support film and television scenes containing intimacy, nudity or sexual content. Just as a stunt coordinator brings their expertise to manage and facilitate ﬁght scenes, an intimacy coordinator (IC) ensures intimate scenes are safe and well-communicated, efficiently realised and believable.
An Intimacy Coordinator offers specialised support, safeguarding and best practice solutions while holding space for sensual and exciting storytelling. Producers, directors and actors - in fact all cast and crew - thrive within the potential for fast, professional and secure approaches to creative intimacy. A trained IC brings a codiﬁed framework that establishes authentic consent and agreement across all intimate content.
While every project requires a bespoke and flexible approach to suit its team, scenes, director’s vision and actors’ instincts, an IC will always maintain consistent principles that provide for healthy creative parameters around emotional and physical performance. Having an IC in the room ensures third-party protections, a levelling of power dynamics and transparent communication.
As a head of department role, an IC advocates on behalf of all cast and crew, including lead actors, supporting artists, and minors as well as stunt doubles, stand-ins and body doubles. ICs take the conversation lead on all intimacy content and coordinate between showrunners, producers, legal, directors, AD teams, wardrobe, photography, stunt, sound and art departments. They ensure clarity and context, carry out risk assessments, maintain industry standard protocols on set and can collaborate on choreography
Samantha Murray is an intimacy coordinator, working across the EU, UK and Australia.
Between 2019 and 2020 Sam trained with Ita O'Brien, founder of Intimacy On Set (IOS) in the UK, continuing under the mentorship of Kate Lush with Safe Sets (UK / SA). She has a 1st class honours in Theatre Studies (BA), from the University of Surrey (GSA) and is a qualified teacher (QTS). She is a member of MEAA (Equity), BECTU (UK) and the IPG (EU).
In addition to her focus as an intimacy coordinator, Sam's experience spans a career of more than 25 years as a professional actress on stage and screen in Australia, as well as working with hundreds of young actors as an educator and director internationally. Her communication skills and attention to detail offer a practical and creative foundation to support productions. Sam's extensive knowledge of embodied approaches to performance allows for a nuanced and sensitive collaboration with actors and directors when exploring intimate storytelling, while maintaining a safe space on stage, or set, for all cast and crew.
What is Intimacy?
Intimacy on screen can include many moments of introspection and interaction; from simulated birth scenes, working with minors, medical and aged care touch, through to simulated masturbation, intercourse, sexual violence and assault. A character’s intimacy journey traverses representations of countless affirmative ways in which one chooses to self-identify and orient across the spectrum of sexuality. From purely physical stories to exploring emotional relationships as well as intimacy arcs of non-sexual moments of touch, the industry is demanding psychological and somatic safety within all levels of intimate content. Intimate scenes may range from solo performances, paired experiences or larger group or community connections.
Despite the many outstanding and nurturing filmmakers that have sought to capture the very best representations of intimate content with professionalism and respect, traditionally, far too much has been left to chance. There have also been missed storytelling opportunities due to chaotic, clumsy or overly-cautious approaches to intimate scenes. Moments that hope to represent characters at their most human, vulnerable and unguarded can appear diminished or diluted as a result of creatives unsure or uncomfortable with the content. At the same time, the industry is awash with examples of productions, lacking a specific professional framework, risking sexually transmitted disease, trauma, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.
Beyond #MeToo and #TimesUp, the industry has sought solid change and industry action for improved best practice for intimate content, from auditions to post-production. A production's commitment to the role of intimacy coordinator, and the expertise they bring, means that physical and emotional boundaries are clearly defined and informed consent pathways created freely. An IC offers movement and touch methodologies that facilitate flexible solutions, expanding the physical storytelling and serving the desired performance outcomes. They skilfully contribute frameworks that provide secure approaches to finding creative edges; in order to progress emotional storytelling to its full potential. This, in turn, allows for truly original character journeys that engage, excite, and enthral.
Everyone deserves to have
a great day at work.
Presence: we don't mind the awkward conversations. Intimacy coordination provides a crucial third party perspective to support consensual and well-communicated intimate performances.
Protection: we address potentially costly and serious harm scenarios by placing agreement and consent at the core of our professional practice; assisting to mitigate risks of intimidation, coercion, sexual harassment, sexual abuse, discrimination and bullying.
Protocols: we love clarity and will sensitively coordinate, document and feedback across departments in order to facilitate open, transparent and healthy creative spaces.
Pathways: we collaborate to define shared boundaries so that artists can play with more freedom. By laying a foundation for respectful and inclusive representations of sexuality on screen, the process paves the way for authentic exploration into both low and high risk physical storytelling.
For the production company: avoid delays on set, limit liabilities, and maintain risk protections. Promote a space for best performances alongside cast and crew wellbeing.
For the director: a direct means to expertly communicate your ideas with regard to delicate sexual topics and realising them to their potential. Support and collaboration for creating choreographic choices, if requested.
For the actor: a third party advocate, clarifying physical boundaries and agreed consent in order to be free to explore your best performance. Check ins and follow ups to minimise harm on all intimacy, challenging content and your everyday workplace.
For the crew: an inclusive approach to safety and wellbeing as well as guidance on best practises to maintain over the day - in support of yourself, your teams, the scene and overall working environment.
“She has an incredible manner with Directors, Actors and the entire crew. Her knowledge of the industry and sensitivity of her training is incomparable. Confident in her approach but with the greatest respect to the process she was crucial for our production. There were many moments that Sam was integral to our actors’ ability to feel comfortable and give fantastic performances. In addition to this she also navigated crews' needs and supported SA’s through very risky situations.”
Fair Play, T-Street 2022
“It was also really nice to have someone holding boundaries on set on our behalf and creating a space of calm and clarity amidst the chaos of the shoot. She had an intuitive understanding of when to step in and when to let the process take place organically. Always knowing she was on the sidelines for support if we needed anything was a big relief.”
Citadel, Amazon 2021