Sex Education : how the coordinator of intimacy has coached actors for the sex scenes
This is a profession that did not exist a few years ago : the co-coordinators or coordinators of intimacy are increasingly in demand on the sets of tv series and movies. Sex Education, including the season 2 is available since January 17, was the first series of Netflix to call in a professional to coach the actors for the sex scenes. What is its role before and during the filming ? How to coach the stars of the series ?
They may be pleasant to look at but the sex scenes, it is far from being a pleasure for the actors that turn. Following the movements to Me Too, and Time’s Up which have freed the word in Hollywood after the case of Harvey Weinstein, many changes were needed in the scenes of the productions, be it movies or series. Of course, the SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild ‐ American Federation of Television and Radio Artists), the trade association which represents actors and performers industry in the united states, has revised its requirements of directives regarding the filming of the intimate scenes (for example by prohibiting photographs or by requiring that the shoot be done in a small team).
But the need to provide the best support to the players and coach even more of these scenes has also given birth to a new profession : the coordinator of intimacy. According to Reuters, they were only 4 in 2017, up from 29 today. The Intimacy Directors International (IDI) offers a formal certification to work in behind the scenes shoots. By 2019, more than 70 people have applied for this training for only 10 places available.
Choreograph a sex scene as choreography of an action scene
But a coordinator of intimacy, what is it exactly ? Prior to their presence on the set during sex scenes, the actors were thrown in the bath, in front of themselves choreograph the scenes or improvise in front of the cameras under the guidance of the director. Something is illogical if one believes Ita O’brien, one of the coordinators of intimacy the most well-known and who is working on Sex Education. For her, preparing the actors in a sex scene is equivalent to prepare the stars to an action scene or combat. “
When a charge of fighting comes on the set, one gives him the time and space to choreograph every detail. The intimate scenes should work the same way” she tells the Huffington Post.
On a shoot, the coordinator of privacy, therefore, has multiple responsibilities. It starts with meeting the actors and evokes each of the intimate scenes with them, determines their boundaries (for example, the areas of the body where they do not wish to be affected). “
If we establish limits, then the creativity can develop without fear, “explains Ita O’brien. His work does not stop there. After this preliminary phase of preparation, the coordinator of privacy remains in constant contact with the stars but also film directors or even the heads of the costumes. Its role is not limited only to advice and to listen to: it creates the choreography depicting the scene and intimate the fact to learn for the participants, in agreement with the director.
It is natural and normal (…) that there is an erection
The coordinator of privacy is also present to ensure good conditions of shooting. For example, Ita O’brien recommends that the parity is respected on the shooting of intimate scenes, including scenes with actresses. More strict rules are put in place to ensure that everyone is comfortable : the actors wearing g-strings or pants, flesh-colored to avoid contact and may be separated by pillows or sheets (also flesh-coloured). It is also forbidden to touch the genitals of his partner and, during scenes of kissing, the two players discuss together beforehand so that everyone is on the same wave-length on the unfolding of the scene. And if ever a male actor has an erection in the middle of shooting ? “
If a player feels overwhelmed in the middle of an intimate stage, it can stop the action and take a break. It is natural and normal, when a body moves against another that there is an erection. But it is not acceptable in the workplace and it is necessary to take a break, “says Ita O’brien.
How Sex Education has prepared his actors with intimate scenes
It is during the preparation for the season 1 Ita O’brien has been contacted by the team of
Sex Education. Since the series talks about sex for teens and having regard to the age of the players (between 19 and 27 years old during the filming of the first season), it seemed essential that they are well framed for the shooting of intimate scenes that were, for most of them, their first scenes, bare to the screen. In order to put them at ease and enable actors to learn to know, Ita O’brien has organized a workshop before the shoot where all the actors had to reproduce the mating of animals. “ Using this process can help the actors to be precise on their movements during an intimate stage, without having to reveal their personal habits, “explains Ita O’brien.
A presence and supervision is essential for the stars of the series. “
It really is a relief that people like Ita exist. I’m much more comfortable with it, thanks to his advice and methods that I have served in other roles. It helps to structure demystify these intimate scenes” was entrusted to Entertainmentie Emma Mackey, who plays Maeve. For its part, Ncuti Gatwa (Eric) adds to this topic : “ We never felt alone. These scenes could isolate us, to scare us, intimidate us but we always had someone on our side“. Sex Education is obviously not the only series to appeal to a coordinator of intimacy. From October 2018, the coordinators and the coordinators are present on each of the series of HBO containing explicit scenes. This is also the case for the filming of many other series like the reboot of The The World, Carnival Row, How to Get Away with Murder , or even Spinning Out. In addition to the tv series and the film, the co-ordinators of intimacy have also been working with theatre productions. As to the presence of the coordinators of privacy in France ? Very little information is available about it but some of the coordinators of the IDI travel in Europe for shootings.