As Hollywood continues to reckon with certain industry practices in the #MeToo era, HBO has announced that it will hire “intimacy coordinators” for all of its shows that feature intimate scenes. The position is a combination of choreographer and advocate, with intimacy coordinators reviewing scripts, advising directors and actors about how to film sex scenes, and offering guidance on the physical execution of the scene itself. HBO’s new policy was inspired by The Deuce, which hired its own intimacy coordinator, Alicia Rodis, at the request of Emily Meade, who plays a prostitute-turned-pornographic actress.
Here’s how Rolling Stone describes Rodis’ role during the filming of a sex scene:
She had given Meade a pad for her knees, knowing that the hard floor would bruise them otherwise. Between takes, she offered mouth spray and flavored lubricant. And she had spoken with Meade before the scene about her concerns and relayed them to the director. In a moment when Meade was completely exposed, Rodis was there, providing physical, social and professional protection.
The network reportedly found Rodis through her nonprofit, Intimacy Directors International, which “aims to normalize a set of standards and practices surrounding the execution of sex scenes on stage and on film.” Rodis has also been hired as an intimacy coordinator on the sets of Crashing, Damon Lindelof’s upcoming Watchmen series, and the Deadwood movie, and is training others to work on additional HBO shows. Meade, who lobbied to have an intimacy coordinator position on set, noted that Rodis’ main role is to ensure that actors are fully informed and that the production is free of harassment. “She’s not taking over the scene, or telling anybody to make it more PG than it is,” Meade said. “[Rodis] has a background in stunt choreography, physicality, body language, and how to perform and protect. She says ‘If you know how many feet you’re going to jump, it’s easier to fully go into it.’ ”
Directors, producers, and actors have been rethinking how they handle sexual subjects, including sexual assault, on film and television sets since the Weinstein scandal erupted in October 2017. It’s worth noting that several actresses have accused The Deuce star James Franco of sexually inappropriate or coercive behavior in a professional environment, such as unexpectedly asking actresses to remove their clothing during a scene and removing protective plastic guards while simulating oral sex. Franco has said, through his attorney and in TV appearances, that those charges are “not accurate,” and HBO and David Simon have said that there were no such complaints about Franco on the set of the The Deuce.