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Cinema: these “intimate coordinators” who help actors and actresses “vulnerable when they are naked”

“A sexual relationship in a film is a dance of the body, like a tango”, explains Ita O’Brien. This dancer and actress is an intimate coordinator on the sets. A fairly new profession on the sets, while there have been dance teachers or coaches for stunt scenes for a long time. “If it took a long time to create this work of intimacy counselor, it was because it did not make sense, Ita O’Brien explains. Of course, since people don’t know how to tango or waltz, you have to give lessons to actors. On the other hand, on are all sexual human beings, we all know how to survive and procreate. So we don’t need specialists a priori, because we all do it. “

Ita O’Brien is in charge of sex scenes for actors of iconic series like Sex Education, It’s a Sin or Normal People. As early as 2005, she began to take an interest in acting when it comes to sex scenes. In 2014, a few months before the Harvey Weinstein affair, she developed a code of good practice on filming which was adopted by the film industry with the #MeToo movement. “We know there is harassment and abuse on sets because an actor is vulnerable when he is naked or someone touches him.”

“When you fake sex there is a risk because you are vulnerable.”

Ita O’Brien

to franceinfo

Ita O’Brien is present during rehearsals and on set. “We have developed an authorization process”, she continues. It’s about asking actors and actresses “Are you okay with having your cheek touched? Are you okay with being hit on the back? Are you okay with having your hand on your butt ? Are you okay with kissing lips today? On Saturday I asked the question to an actress I worked with. She said: ‘It’s ok if he washes his mouth before with an antiseptic ‘. “

For Ita O’Brien, the work of an intimacy advisor is like that of a choreographer. She takes the example of a scene in Sex Education. “In season 2, there’s a really nice scene between Otis and Ola. She really wants to open up sexually. In that scene, there was a rhythm with bars. Measure 1, they lie down on the bed. Measure 2: Ola takes off her pants. Measure 3: Otis puts his fingers on Ola’s body. For me, the most difficult scenes to shoot have nothing to do with the content. Difficult scenes are when I’m with directors who don’t want me to choreograph and understand my work. “

At the last Bafta ceremony in London, the director and actress of the series I May Destroy You Michaela Coel praised Ita O’Brien’s work: “Thank you for making our sets safe.”

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