Results of the FIA survey on Intimacy Professionals

Gender Equality Sexual Harassment Event Reports News

In 2016, actor Emily Meade was hired on a brand-new HBO series, entitled “The Deuce”. Set in the world of the sex trade and pornographic film industry of New York City in the 1970s, the series was filled with an unprecedented amount of explicit content. Meade therefore decided to reach out to her union, SAG-AFTRA, to express her wish to have someone on set to help her prepare for the intimate scenes. An “intimacy coordinator” was then hired to help stage the intimate scenes and provide help and support to the actors on set.

Since that first experience, this new discipline has evolved. In addition to choreographing the physical movements of intimate scenes, intimacy professionals now work with the wardrobe department on costumes and modesty garments, prepare the performers psychologically, provide them with tools to disengage from the action at the end of the working day and more. The practice is also becoming increasingly widespread, with intimacy professionals working in film, television, theatre and opera in different countries around the world.

At its Executive Committee meeting in London in 2022, FIA members had an insightful discussion about intimacy coordination/direction and the work of intimacy professionals. This keen interest expressed by FIA members led the FIA Working Group on Sexual Harassment and Gender Equality to decide to undertake work to examine the global situation with respect to the engagement of intimacy professionals and their working conditions.

As a first step in this work, the group decided to conduct a survey of FIA affiliates to determine how widespread the use of intimacy professionals is, whether or not affiliates provide for working conditions in any of their documents and whether or not intimacy professionals are in the existing membership. Led by CAEA, the FIA Sexual Harassment and Gender Equality Working Group developed a questionnaire. The link to the survey was sent to 84 unions and 30 responses were received.

Several key findings emerged from the survey. The first is that intimacy direction/coordination is still at an emerging stage, with only 32% of respondents indicating that it was common practice in their country. The second is that, while all respondents agreed that the key task of an intimacy professional is to support performers in scenes involving nudity or simulated sex, there is less consensus on the wider role that an intimacy professional may play in supporting artists in scenes involving emotional/psychological stress. The survey also shows that very few unions have intimacy professionals recognized in any of their working conditions and that very few respondents currently have intimacy professionals in their membership. Finally, the results reveal that there is a lack of trained professionals and that there should be standard requirements for their training.

The results of this survey were presented at the 2023 Executive Committee meeting in Istanbul during a panel discussion on intimacy direction/coordination. You can consult the summary and full results of the survey here.

To complete the information gathered through the survey, the FIA Working Group on Sexual Harassment and Gender Equality agreed to conduct a series of written interviews with intimacy professionals to collect first-hand information about their day-to-day work and working conditions.

The second phase of this project on intimacy direction/coordination and intimacy professionals will consist in the creation of a resource page on intimacy direction/coordination on the FIA website as well as the drafting of a best practice document on the engagement of intimacy professionals.

FIA Intimacy Professionals Survey Report 

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