What is Intimacy Direction?
Intimacy Direction (ID for theater) and Intimacy Coordination (IC for TV and Film) is a relatively new field in the world of stage and screen. The work done by ID's and IC's debunk old adages like, "You must suffer for your art." We center the ideas of consent and safety for performers, providing a clear platform to develop trust and a container of care for them to do their best work and not be harmed physically or emotionally in the process. Similar to a Fight Choreographer, an ID will work with performers to make sure that physical touch is done with clear boundaries that are respected and followed, as well as help navigate complicated emotional landscapes actors must put themselves in to tell certain elements of a story.
Traditionally, actors were often left on their own to figure out how to do intimate scenes on stage and screen. They may have been directed by someone who didn't have understanding or respect for the need to make those elements feel safe for everyone involved. Abuse in the industry was rampant. Since the #MeToo movement the need for clear boundaries has been brought to the forefront in workspaces everywhere. But because there is little to no oversight for these things on stages or movie sets, problems continue. There is almost never an HR department at a theater for reporting problems, and addressing these issues is still not prioritized on many movie and TV sets. Sadly, not everyone understands how to hold safe spaces or is skilled at providing them. Enter your ID or IC! We are trained to hold a consent forward space, to establish safe parameters and mitigate potential harm in working spaces, from audition rooms to sets.
I believe we need to go further than just making sure an actor knows where it's okay to touch someone, or how to work an emotionally challenging scene without losing your most-resourced self in the process. What about the stage manager or lighting technician who needs to watch a rape scene being played out on stage, daily, for weeks on end? Or the Director of Photography or editor who must watch a depiction of violence up close, over and over? How do we care for them? Intimacy Directors can and should provide support for all by paying attention and checking in with everyone involved in the process.
I've been doing advocacy work for survivors of sexual violence since 2016,and consent work in the arts since 2019. I'm a trained Consent Forward Artist with IDC and pursuing my certification for IC in television and film. Though this new certification is not a requirement to do the work, I'm thrilled to be expanding my knowledge and skill-set in this important field.
My proudest accomplishment regarding consent in the workplace was establishing the Minnesota Theater Foundational Standards for Safety and Accountability with the Twin Cities theater community, a guiding set of practices, ideals, and principals. It's a template for anyone who wants to learn more or develop their own. Click here to access the document.
The work of ID's and IC's is becoming more common across the United States and is spreading globally. I had the great fortune to travel and work in Melbourne, AU early in 2023 as the ID at the Alex Theater in St. Kilda and was so happy to find that several of the actors were familiar with this work and had wonderful experiences with those holding safe spaces for performers in Australia.
As a survivor or harm in a theater setting as a child actor, this work is very important to me. I am committed to doing whatever I can to help prevent similar things happening to my fellow artists. If you are interested in having a conversation about how I can help provide this kind of support for your project, please fill out the form below and I will get back to you as soon as possible to discuss timing and rates for this kind of direction.