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:
- Michael C. Quadland as human sexuality consultant on Chance of a Lifetime (1985)
- Martin Turner as sex & cruelty consultant on Straight to Hell (1987). (This sounds like it might possibly be the complete opposite of what the modern Intimacy coordinator is striving for).
- Andy Prevezer as sex aide on Staggered (1994). (One has to take this credit at face value in order to include it in this article).
- Lonnie Barbach as sexuality consultant on The Hottest Bid (1995) and The Voyeur (1997)
- Eva Norvind as psychosexual consultant on Distress (2003).
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.
The data for today’s work came from IMDb, OMDb, The Numbers, Wikipedia and my own research.
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.