Intimacy co-ordinators a change for the better

"You go over the scene, kiss, work out each other's boundaries." Barons star Sean Keenan explains the value an intimacy co-ordinator brings to set.

In the years that have followed the Harvey Weinstein scandal and #MeToo, Intimacy Co-ordinators have become regular members of film and television crews.

Their role is to help cast and crew navigate scripted scenes which require kissing, romance, sex and intimacy, ensuring a respectful workplace and putting an end to infamous situations where actors were left feeling exposed, vulnerable or exploited.

HBO introduced them to all crews in 2018 and Australian productions have also stepped up, including recent ABC drama Barons.

“To me, it’s mind boggling that only became a profession a few years ago,” actor Sean Keenan tells TV Tonight.

“It used to be something that you sort of worked out between you and your fellow scene partner and the director. There’s so much room there for people to not feel like they can’t speak up if they’re feeling a bit uncomfortable, or out of their depth. So we now have intimacy coordinators for the better. You kind of block out those scenes like a dance. You set out the steps, and you map it out.”

Keenan, whose extensive credits include Glitch, Puberty Plues, Lockie Leonard, Nitram, Hoges, Wake in Fright, Power of the Dog and True History of the Kelly Gang is no stranger to romantic scenes.

“It’s such a weird thing… this idea that you’ve just got to suddenly kiss someone first day on set. You’ve been married to this character for a year or, or you’ve been seeing each other for seven months, but you’re kissing this fellow scene partner for the first time.

“With an intimacy coordinator, you go over the scene, kiss, work out each other’s boundaries.”

The intimacy co-ordinator on Barons was actor Chloe Dallimore who recently served the same role on Underbelly: Vanishing Act. Other artists who have undertaken advisory roles are actors Eve Morey and Michala Banas.

Actor Stephen Curry recently recalled Eve Morey’s guidance on Spreadsheet.

“I think it’s very worthwhile, because it means that everyone’s safe in the workplace, regardless of what the scene requires. I think that’s a really important thing. But also, you now choreograph anything intimate like a dance. Usually you’d go into a scene, they roll and you try and keep your face so the cameraman can see you and just go for it,” he said.

“Now you basically choreograph every single intimate move, before you actually get into doing the scene.

“It does take longer, but no-one ends up in a situation that they don’t feel comfortable in.”

Keenan agrees it is a change for the better.

“Definitely. In real life, intimate moments with someone can be awkward, funny, fun -all these different things. Leaving it open to keep those moments alive and feeling natural in front of the camera. With the help of Chloe those scenes are far easier,” he said.

“I always had really sensitive directors when I was doing those types of scenes. I think you’re always very aware around people’s boundaries. But also, there’s room for people who don’t have as much experience if things go wrong.

“I think it’s something that needed to happen. Definitely.”

Barons continues 8:30pm Sundays on ABC.

Leave a Reply