South Africa: Shooting Sex Scenes and the Importance of Intimacy Protocols

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Intimacy coordination unveils accumulated psychological and emotional trauma, sometimes buried deep in unconsciousness. Giving consent to being touched is critical, but actors often have no experience of being asked for permission to be touched.

Why intimacy protocols?

Originally pioneered by stunt coordinators, intimacy coordination evolved out of the recognition of the potential harm to casts and crew when emotionally or sexually charged sequences are filmed irresponsibly. It gained traction in the US and Europe with the #MeToo movement in 2017.

Later, it was introduced at the 2019 Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) by UK-trained intimacy coordinator Kate Lush at the request of Sisters Working in Film and TV (SWIFT); and in April 2021 a wide-ranging consultation with representative bodies in the film and TV industry led to the launch of a series of intimacy protocols to guide writers, casting agents, producers, directors, actors and crews in the production of intimate film and TV content.

In South Africa, the Independent Producers Organisation (IPO) has even proposed a checklist (included in the protocols) for production companies that need an intimacy coordinator but don’t have the budget.

“Not all producers are going to be able to afford to have an intimacy coordinator on.

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