By Laura Olson-Young

An actor and Intimacy Coordinator, Michela’s talk focused on revealing insights for directors, actors and producers navigating the delicate art of intimacy on set.

Michela discussed the study ‘Neuroscience of Romeo and Juliet’ where actors were put in four different situations and asked a question. Their neural patterns showed that there is evidence coming out of neuroscience and psychology of real biological effects to what we do in the pretend space, and we need to be using strategies to minimise that harm.

For example, if you were acting of running away, the adrenalin is still created as if you were actually running away, so these same factors would then exist during intimate scenes as well.

She also talked about why this role is so much in our industry consciousness right now. Links to the MeToo, Times Up and Black Lives Matter movements have brought consciousness around representation, cultural safety, and consent in the industry, and how easy it is to exploit others.

Keeping acting and reality separate can be challenging and with allegations of sexual harassment coming to light more frequently in recent years, it is now more important than ever that intimacy coordinators are on set to help.

Last year, Australia’s first Intimacy Guidelines for Stage and Screen were established to ensure that everyone felt they were prepared for and had support when it came to intimacy on set. These guidelines were created in consultation with and endorsed by the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), Screen Producers Australia (SPA), Australian Directors’ Guild (ADG), Casting Guild of Australia (CGA), and the MEAA National Stunt Committee.

The guidelines encourage the use of an intimacy coordinator to be available where appropriate and to guide best practice on set.

Recently, SPA and MEAA released updated screen industry safety guidelines for the first time in nearly 20 years, which they have been working on for the past three years. These updated safety guidelines include both COVID-19-Safe Guidelines and the MEAA Intimacy Guidelines for Stage and Screen.

With all these factors to take into consideration, the role of an intimacy coordinator on set is becoming increasingly important. This not only helps create a safe working environment but also one where creativity is able to shine, as the actors know that their concerns are being acknowledged and are able to showcase their abilities without fear.

Creating guidelines that make people feel both prepared and supported in their industry is just one great example of emerging needs being fulfilled in the industry, and is a great step to the future of what the industry can become for all when different groups work together.


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