How many films employ an Intimacy Coordinator?

12 February '24 2 Comments on How many films employ an Intimacy Coordinator?

The film industry is pretty slow to change and usually opts to do whatever it was doing last year rather than embrace change. This is never more true than in the area of employment and the roles on-set.

However, two types of roles which have popped into being almost overnight are the intrepid staff of “The Covid Department” and Intimacy Coordinators. While the former are a dying breed, the latter are going from strength to strength.

I wanted to get a handle on just how prevalent Intimacy Coordinators were in modern moviemaking, so I turned to the data. I studied 385,723 live-action fiction movies made worldwide and honed in on the credits linked to the work of intimacy professionals.

As a quick primer, an Intimacy Coordinator is a professional advocate responsible for choreographing and overseeing scenes of intimacy in film and theatre, ensuring the well-being, safety, and consent of the actors involved.

How many films hire an Intimacy Coordinator?

Prior to 2020, almost no Intimacy Coordinators were credited on movies. The closest we got were roles which were nominally focused on the appearance or creation of intimate moments on-screen but from a very different paradigm. These included:

As a minor aside, I strongly recommend reading more about the last person on that list – Eva Norvind. Daughter of a Russian prince and Finnish sculptor, she was a film director, Playboy bunny, academic, photographer, dominatrix, actress and forensic psychologist. She was thrown out of Mexico with only 24 hours’ notice, spoke eight languages, worked under three aliases, and coached Renne Russo on how to dial up her sexuality in The Thomas Crown Affair (1999).

Beyond just learning about a fascinating person, Eva’s case does highlight one limitation of studying credits. Her credit on The Thomas Crown Affair was a rather bland “technical consultant“. Spot-checking trivia on other films, I found another case of what we might call a proto-Intimacy Coordinator being credited as a “technical advisor“, namely Susie Bright on Bound (1996). We can’t know how many other people performed the role, but they are hidden from us due to opaque crediting.

The first movie credit I could find of someone who was acknowledged as being focused on the actors’ perspective of intimate scenes was Amanda Gabriel, who was credited as “acting coach / intimacy choreographer” (as well as casting) on Amigos de Risco (2007).

Despite being long overdue, it took the #MeToo movement to cause change within the industry. From around 2020, we have seen the prevalence of Intimacy Coordinators increasing. 1.9% of movies made in 2023 included at least one such credit.

How are Intimacy Coordinators credited?

Given what we’ve seen about the vague and varied pre-MeToo crediting, it’s surprising that there is such conformity among the current crop of Intimacy Coordinators.

Nine out of ten credits are in the form of “Intimacy Coordinator”, with a few productions swapping the second half for Director, Choreographer, Consultant or Coach.

What types of films most commonly hire an Intimacy Coordinator?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most common genre to feature Intimacy Coordinators are romantic movies, where 3.5% of such productions included a credit. They were the least credited among War, Action and Fantasy movies.

The gender of Intimacy Coordinators

Before we finish, I want to highlight an interesting trend. The vast majority of people who work as Intimacy Coordinators self ideinfity as women.

Of the credits awarded on movies over the past four years, 87% have gone to women, 12% to men and 1% to people who identify in other ways.

Notes

The data for today’s work came from IMDb, OMDb, The Numbers, Wikipedia and my own research.

Epilogue

If you’re wondering if you need to hire an Intimacy Coordinator for your next production, then you probably do. There are plenty of formal ways to hire people (such as reaching out to Intimacy Directors and Coordinators) as well as semi-formal ways (such as the Facebook group I Need An Intimacy Professional/Coordinator/Director/Consultant).

And if you’re thinking of becoming an intimacy professional, there are an increasing number of courses and industry accreditations you can look into.

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Comments

2 comments
  1. As a Director, I would think it was my remit to work with the actors involved, to work out the choreography of a scene. In my mind, I don’t need a third-party consultant to slot in between myself, the DP and the actors.

    1. Hey Geoff

      Yes, it’s true that the director is the main holder of the artistic relationship between the actors and the film/audience. However, they do that job by being supported by a cadre of professionals in different fields.

      Think about how a director’s work can be made better (not to mention much safer) by collaborating with a Stunt Coordinator. The stunt professional can help guide how different movements may look on camera, they empower the director to get the best audience experience and, curially, ensure it’s all done in a safe way for the people actually doing the work. This is similar to an Intimacy Coordinator, just switch physical dangers with emotional ones (which cane be no less real or damaging).

      Consider the benefits to your work as director:

      • Intimacy Coordinators will spend most of their professional life working to get the best scenes on screen. Most directors will only be faced with those types of scenes a few times a year, at most. Having their thoughts and advice will be invlauable.
      • The presence of an Intimacy Coordinator will provide a sense of security for actors, allowing them to focus on their performance and achieving what you’re after.
      • Finally, you’ll be part of building a safer, more considerate work environment for your colleagues. Actors are in a far more vulnerable position than the director, and have traditionally worked in a predatory and uncaring work environment. It’s nice to be able to work to counter that wrong.

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