On Screen Intimacy can be Dangerous, Here is How One Group is Dealing with It

Business, Lifestyle
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This week the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) announced “a major milestone in its ongoing work to promote the on-set safety and dignity of its members.”

According to a statement, “SAG-AFTRA’s new ‘Standards and Protocols for the Use of Intimacy Coordinators’ provides a framework for the use of professional, skilled intimacy coordinators – professionals who help performers and productions navigate highly sensitive scenes that feature nudity and simulated sex –throughout the entire production process. 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 full document can be downloaded HERE and a video package can be viewed HERE.”

The standards and protocols were developed over a long period of time. In the early years rules were few and far between and the environments were often not very safe.  The most recent ones 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,” according to a statement.

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

“These guidelines directly address the problem of sexual harassment on sets,” SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White stated.

“This is a home run 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.



“These Standards and Protocols reflect input from the full community of Intimacy Coordinators working in the industry today. We are grateful for their input and for the feedback received already by industry allies and partners who have also worked with us, and who have expressed an eagerness for clarity around this important role. There is more work to be done by all of us in the industry, including standardized training and expanding the number of experienced professionals to serve in this role. These Standards and Protocols lay a solid foundation for this growth and for the continued, seismic change needed to eliminate the scourge of sexual harassment in our industry.”

“It is our hope that this process can be widely adopted for an effective and reasonable path for productions to work with a trained intimacy coordinator. With these protocols already field-tested by an ever-growing number of productions and studios, we believe we can make important and welcome industry changes,” said Alicia Rodis, Associate Director and Co-Founder, Intimacy Directors International.

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

The statement goes on to note that “or more than two years, SAG-AFTRA has led the conversation on eliminating sexual harassment in the entertainment industry through strategic partnerships with industry allies and by pushing for stronger legislation. In 2018, the union established the Four Pillars of Change initiative and collaborated with the SAG-AFTRA Foundation and The Actors Fund to expand existing intervention tools and survivor support services. In 2019, it issued its Code of Conduct and Guideline No. 1 (the prohibition of meetings in high-risk locations) to uphold professional standards and address the potentially toxic culture and power imbalances that contribute to workplace harassment.”



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