Hollywood is still changing due to the many individuals who have spoken about their sexual assaults during #MeToo. The movement showed a power imbalance in the film industry and also that there has been a lack of conversation surrounding consent and boundaries while coordinating sex scenes.

Many actors who have suffered from the lack of conversation before filming an intimate scene have experienced some level of trauma because they were afraid of listening to what their bodies were comfortable with. Actors have been taught to be clay that can be molded into whatever the director wants. This lack of acknowledgment of a person's level of safety and comfort is what leads to many actors feeling unsafe on set. 

This idea of creating a conversation around onscreen intimacy is something that intimacy coordinators like Marcus Watson are trying to change to make TV, movie, and theater sets more comfortable and safe for everyone.

In this week’s episode of Working, Isaac Butler spoke with Watson about how he approaches conversations about kissing and sex with actors and directors in the context of the #MeToo movement. 

Sex-scenes-during-covid-19_0Credit: News Magazine

How to start

When first starting an intimate scene, Watson makes sure to take time and asks the actors what their boundaries are. Many times, actors will say they have no boundaries and that they are open to anything and everything. Although they may say this, it isn’t always true. Watson states that he does not contradict those types of statements because he does not feel it is his position to say what someone’s boundaries are; his position is to listen to what the actors feel is right. 

It isn’t until they start the scene and go through the details of what is appropriate and what isn’t for the level of intimacy that they are performing.

If the actors are undressing each other, at what point does a certain action or touch feel inappropriate? That is when Watson steps in and asks if certain touching feels right, making space for the actors to speak up and say if they feel uncomfortable. Not every scene will need a conversation about boundaries, but it depends on the context of the scene. An open conversation about what is happening and what the actors’ boundaries are will help the intimacy coordinator break down the context of the scene. 

Some boundaries may not be present during one rehearsal that comes up during another. If an actor isn’t okay with something, then that is okay, and something can be changed.

That’s the beauty of consent. It is fully retractable and is very specific to the context and the moment. Boundaries can be changed given the person, who is in the room, or where the scene takes place. 


Be flexible

Redrafting an idea is necessary for every creative profession. It’s important in the aspect of boundaries. If a boundary does come up, it is the job of the director and intimacy coordinator to change the little things to make the actors feel comfortable enough to continue with the shoot.

Major changes rarely happen because there is clear communication before the camera even arrives. What typically happens is that a modesty garment isn’t allowing an actor to do a specific move and the choreography needs to be changed slightly. 

When major changes do pop up, it is the part of the intimacy coordinator to have a plan A, B, C, and D.

Watson states, “Many times I’ll come, and I’ll already have ideas... I’m thinking, Okay, great, we can do it this way, we can change it this way, we can change angles slightly and do this.

It’s also important the intimacy coordinator has clear communication with the director. Letting everyone on set know what boundaries are present and what challenges are being faced during shooting will help the process move quickly while respecting one another. 

It is important to show respect to others, especially the ones who are helping bring your vision to life. Some people will have a wider range of boundaries while others don’t, but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss the boundaries of anyone.

Let us know in the comments your thoughts on navigating an intimate scene during #MeToo!

Source: Slate.com