We’re making on-screen sex “more realistic”

IIntimacy coordinators, the behind-the-scenes workers who choreograph on-screen sex for television and film, have suddenly been thrust into the limelight last week.

It all started on Friday, when British actor Sean Bean questioned their purpose in an interview with The temperature from London. Declaring himself not a fan, the game of thrones The star feared they were “spoiling the spontaneity”.

“I think the natural behavior of lovers would be ruined by someone reducing it to a technical exercise,” said the acting vet, who hasn’t been involved in many sex scenes throughout his career. “It would inhibit me more because it draws attention to things.”

The role of the intimacy coordinator is fairly new. The HBO show 2017 The devil, about the golden age of porn in New York, is often cited as the series that opened the floodgates for the fledgling industry within an industry. In just a few short years, CIs gained some notoriety in Hollywood and became increasingly common among productions.

Before they were widely used, it was mostly up to actors, directors and assistant directors to negotiate which moves were appropriate and which weren’t, says Yehuda Duenyas, an intimacy coordinator who recently worked on the season. 2 of the Apple TV+ comedy. the after party and upcoming Showtime drama American gigolo.

“There was no real method or practice to choreograph and stage these scenes and establish a level of comfort and consent,” Duenyas told The Daily Beast.

One of the few male ICs in the game, he learned how to guide actors through steamy scenes by directing plays in New York with “really extreme content”, quoting Thomas Bradshaw. Purity and Fulfillment as examples.

“It was really important to me that the actors I worked with felt good and weren’t afraid to come to work and be able to give 110% in their performances,” he explained.

The #MeToo movement has allowed actors to talk about the conditions on set, a non-traditional workplace where your co-worker can be tasked with fucking you for hours on end as long as it’s in the script. Networks and studios relented, hiring internal ICs to block intimate moments.

After Bean’s comments made headlines, several actresses spoke out in favor of intimacy coordinators.

Rachel Zegler, who won a Golden Globe for her role in last year’s film adaptation West Side Storytweeted that she was “extremely grateful for the one we had on WSS – they showed grace to a newcomer like me + educated those around me with years of experience.”

Duenyas echoed that same sentiment, adding, “Playing is learning lines, repeating them, repeating them. All acting is the appearance of being spontaneous.

Emma Thompson also spoke out against Bean’s comments in an interview with Australian radio station Nova, calling intimacy coordinators “fantastically important”.

There was no real method or practice for choreographing and staging these scenes and establishing a level of comfort and consent.

“You might find people say, ‘It made me feel comfortable, it made me feel safe, it made me feel like I was capable of doing this. work,” the Oscar-winning actress said, adding, “And no, you can’t just let it sink in. There’s a camera there and a team. You’re not alone in a hotel room, you’re surrounded by a bunch of guys most of the time. So it’s not a comfortable situation, period.

Meanwhile, Emmy-nominated actress Amanda Seyfried recalled walking around film sets in her underwear when she was 19 in an interview with Carry magazine published on Monday. “How did I let this happen? Oh, I know why: I was 19 and didn’t want to upset anyone, and I wanted to keep my job. That’s why,” she said.

Intimacy Coordinator Alexandra Tydings understands the pressures on young actresses. She played Aphrodite, the goddess of love, in 90s TV shows Hercules: The Legendary Voyages and Xena: Warrior Princess. Photos from the time show her walking around the set in lingerie. Having a dedicated person to confide in about what you can touch — and what you don’t want others to touch — can be a boon for actors who are finicky in an already tense environment and don’t want to upset their superiors. , she says.

“By having conversations beforehand, allowing each of the actors to talk about what they’re doing and what they don’t feel comfortable with, a level of trust is created,” she said. told the Daily Beast. “It sounds like Sean Bean thinks having an IC means actors aren’t allowed to improvise, and that’s just not true. Having an IC means that actors can improvise more freely, knowing that their boundaries are respected and that they won’t inadvertently hurt their partner.

Daryl McCormack and Emma Thompson in Good luck to you, Leo Grande


Neither Duenyas nor Tydings said they suffered a significant setback in the line of duty. Any weariness about another voice on set telling people what to do is outweighed by the end result, they say.

“I’ve had instances where other crew members aren’t really sure what this job is and don’t take it seriously,” Duenyas said. “And afterwards I get a lot of, ‘I can’t believe we didn’t have you before, how come just a few years ago this job didn’t exist?'”

The sex scenes are obviously incredibly physical, but depending on the nature of the sex depicted, they can also be violent. During our conversations, Duenyas and Tydings compared their jobs to that of stunt coordinators. Few people question the need for a crew member to teach an actor how to fake a slap without actually hurting their co-star, they think, so why is this skepticism directed at the CI?

“These scenes are very much like fight scenes,” Tydings said, making us wonder about the thin line between love and hate. “Actors fake something and try to make it look real, and it can get technically complicated. I’m going to watch the monitor to make sure modesty clothes aren’t seen on screen and that the angle of the bodies looks correct, so the actors don’t have to do so many takes. The comments I get the most from people who were hesitant at first are, “The scene looked so much more realistic because you were there.”

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