When you're on set, the safety of the actors is important no matter what kind of scene you're shooting. When you're going to shoot a sex scene, it matters even more. You want everyone to feel comfortable, to understand the motions, and to get through it together. If you're working on writing a sex scene, you should take this stuff into consideration as well.
Intimate movies and tv shows are all the rage.
That's why there's a rise in a new position called "Intimacy Coordinators." They're like stunt coordinators, but for sex scenes. And if you're going to have a show or a movie, whether on HBO, a studio or anywhere else, you're going to need one.
Intimacy coordinators create a sense of control on the set. They help you work through the motions of the scene, can be a liaison with the actors, and keep everything above board.
So who are they and how do they do it?
Day in the life of an intimacy coordinator for intimate movies and tv shows
Alicia Rodis is a former actress and stuntwoman. She was hired by HBO to basically be a sex-scene coach. Rodis reads screenplays, gives notes, talks with actors, and helps coordinate movements. She's there to help directors who maybe don't have the best plan when it comes to these intimate moments.
As Rodis says to The Atlantic, some directors just don't know enough:
“I want to discuss what your character does for everything until it gets to anything sexual, and then just go for it.” The message that sends to actors is: “ ‘You know how to kiss; kiss how you kiss.’ But no one should give a shit about how the actor kisses”—or comports himself sexually—“it should be about the character.”
This kind of specific direction and action also helps keep the set #MeToo friendly.
Sex scenes are about a mutual respect. You have to listen to what people are comfortable with and also use the correct measures and precautions.
An intimacy coordinator helps outfit your actors so they look naked on camera without being naked in real life. For that, they need a kit.
What is a sex scene kit? And how do they help tv sex and movie sex?
Rodis is on set not only to help maintain safety and comfort but also to just get people to see sex scenes in a new light. There's a lot of preparation and thought that goes into the kit she brings along. Stuff that, if used correctly, makes everyone feel okay without losing the vision for the audience.
Listen to her describe the use of male and female thongs:
“Let’s say we’re coming in to do a sex scene,” she said. “They’re simulating sex and they’re excluding genitals—we are going to see someone fully naked, but not their genitals—and they’re in the bed, with sheets. So what do we need to make sure?” Here she picked up a Shibue (“she-boo”), which looks like a panty liner except that it’s meant to adhere to a person rather than to an undergarment. “We take a Shibue, open it up, and put a silicone guard underneath so everyone becomes like a Barbie doll.”
I know you're picturing this stuff and laughing, but laughter is a step toward comfort. And when you're on set breaking the tension can loosen everyone up and get them ready to go.
They make simulated sex scenes feel real and actors safer.
The Intimacy Coordinator Kit for sex in movies and tv:
- Thongs for men and women
- Breath mints
- Knee pads
- Wet ones
- Baby oil
- Anti-slip pads
Sex in movies and tv show
With shows like The Deuce and Euphoria, it's easy to see how Rodis stays busy. But it's not just HBO. With streamers like Netflix and premium cable like FX, sex is going to be all over movies and TV for a long time coming. There are lots of horror stories about things that have happened on set.
It's nice to see HBO employing ways to keep people safer.
If you're directing your own movie and can budget in someone like Rodis, it feels like an excellent addition to the crew. If not, consider everything she says in her Atlantic article, her kit, and the ways she keeps everyone safe.
Be the change on set that Hollywood needs. You actors, audience, and movie or TV show will be better for it.
What's next? Learn to edit a sex scene!
If you haven't already, you will probably be tasked with cutting together a sex scene at some point in your editing career.
Click the link to learn more!