What is an Intimacy Professional (IP)?
A trained specialist within the performing arts fields whose expertise supports developing and creating intimate scenes and moments. They have movement, acting coaching, choreography, and non-violent communication expertise. They support the workflow with administration and facilitate established protocols within a production.
See “What is an Intimacy Coordinator” and “What is an Intimacy Director” for more media-specific details.
What is the difference between an Intimacy Coordinator (IC) and Intimacy Director (ID)?
- Intimacy Directors = Live Performance (ex: theatre, dance, opera)
- Intimacy Coordinators = Recorded Media (ex: film, television, motion/performance capture)
- There are many similarities and many differences in how an IC and an ID work in their respective roles depending on the medium, the content and the creative collaborators
What is an Intimacy Coordinator (IC)?
Intimacy Coordinators work in recorded media (film/tv, etc), and they are
- specialised movement choreographers,
- acting coaches for scenes and moments of intimacy,
- a liaison between production and performers,
- responsible for administrative coordination and recording of details related to scenes and moments of intimacy,
- consultant for Standards and Protocols (S&P) compliance,
- resource/consultant for intimacy-related research (dramaturgy, etc.),
- advocate for mental/physical health and safety,
- accountable to the Showrunner, Executive Producer, and Director
What is an Intimacy Director (ID)?
Intimacy Directors work in live performance (theatre/opera, etc), and they are
- specialized movement choreographers,
- acting coaches for scenes and moments of intimacy,
- resources for intimacy-related research (dramaturgy, etc.),
- consultants for content warnings for audiences,
- can support the production in establishing and maintaining practices for mental/physical health and safety, including assisting individuals with their own practices.
- a liaison between production and performers,
- accountable to the producer, director, actors and engager.
What does an Intimacy Professional (IP) do?
During a project/production, an Intimacy Professional will typically:
- Isolate the intimate content.
- Consult with the director about their vision.
- Introduce the parameters of Intimacy and Intimacy Professionals to the team.
- Facilitate conversations regarding consent, boundaries and parameters for the project.
- Collaborate with the production team to build a communication vocabulary for safely choreographing intimacy within established parameters.
- While maintaining the collaborative nature of the working relationships and within the established parameters of safety, collaboratively examine and choreograph scenes and moments of intimacy.
- Be present during the final stages of the production (filming, tech week) to assist actors with performance details (as far as is requested) and to ensure that established safety parameters remain maintained.
During the above process, the Intimacy Professional will help to make the work accessible and sustainable for all involved, including the performers, technicians, creative team, and audience.
SAG-AFTRA has an excellent resource for productions and individuals looking for more information on what an Intimacy Coordinator can offer to film productions.
Why do we need ID/ICs?
Intimacy Directors and Intimacy Coordinators are specialists who choreograph and coordinate staged intimacy for film, television, theatre, and other live performance. They are actors’ advocates and facilitate communication between performers and production. When it comes to working on scenes of intimacy – nudity, simulated sex, kissing, etc – ICs and IDs can support productions with best practices to ensure everyone feels confident and safe during the work.
How do I know if an ID/IC is right for me/my production?
ACTRA and the CTA/ITA require an IC/ID on projects that involve nudity and simulated sex. If your project features content that falls under the union definitions of intimacy, then you need an IC/ID. If your production does not fall under union jurisdiction, it is strongly recommended that these guidelines be considered regardless.
It’s best to have a clear idea of what you need in terms of support from an IC/ID before looking for one. A simple kiss between teen lovers versus an intense BDSM group scene versus a period-specific romantic interaction all command different skill sets, which may mean reaching out to a certain IC/ID over another. Review their resumes and references, and have an interview with them to see if they are the right fit for your production.
Do I need a Certified ID/IC?
This is a tricky question! The short answer is no (but it depends).
Some production companies and unions require their Intimacy Professionals have certification from an intimacy training organization.
Unfortunately, this may limit a production’s choices, as there aren’t many organizations that offer certification. Certification also means different things to different organizations offering it; therefore, the training needed to qualify varies from place to place.
Due to the accessibility issues inherent in specialised training and certification, many people either cannot or choose not to pursue certification but become and/or remain fantastic Intimacy Professionals. Likewise, many people have been doing this work before intimacy became a new specialisation and new department, and therefore do not feel the need to formally pursue certification. They still may be the perfect person for what you’re looking for, but clarify with your specific production if certification is mandatory.
Rather than focus on certification, we encourage people to focus on qualifications. Ask yourself if the person who has applied for the job is the right person for it beyond a piece of paper that claims they are. If they carry a certification, ask what that process looks like and what topics are covered. Review their resumes, and references, and have an interview with them to see if they are the right fit for your production.
Instances when an Intimacy Director or Coordinator would be needed:
- nudity or partial nudity
- consensual sex between two or more people
- non-consensual* sex between two or more people (i.e. assault scenes)
- consensual and non-consensual* sexual acts (i.e. oral sex, manual stimulation, intimate touching)
- sexual violence* (consensual and non-consensual depictions)
- self-stimulation (i.e. masturbation)
- any intimacy between youths, or between youths and adults
- scenes of, or that demand, a heightened state of emotion from performers (i.e. trauma, hysteria) that may put the performer at risk
*It is strongly recommended that an Intimacy Director/Coordinator and a Fight Director/Stunt Coordinator are engaged for scenes of violent intimacy, whether the scene depicts these acts to be consensual or not.
Instances when an Intimacy Director, Coordinator and/or Choreographer would be recommended:
- Sexual content, whether or not physical contact is involved. ex: flirting, sexual tension, moments before or after offstage intimate moments, etc.
- Non-sexual physical intimacy, including among friends and familial contact. ex: embraces between characters who are parent and child, comforting a grieving friend, reunions of long-lost friends.
- Scenes of emotional and psychological vulnerability, particularly when physical specificity of movement is required. ex: giving birth, physical caregiving, etc.
I want to become an ID/IC! Where do I start?
There are many avenues an individual can take if they would like to become an Intimacy Professional. Many organizations offer specialised training, mentorship, and apprenticeship, with options for certification. It is recommended to have training in the following areas:
At least five years of experience in either theatre or film, and at least 50 hours of intimacy-specific training before pursuing certification. You can get these hours by training with any recognized intimacy organization or professional, including any NSIP workshops.
It is very important to NSIP to represent diverse experiences and identities in this work and we acknowledge that the education required for this role is not accessible to all folks who would be an incredible asset to productions in this role. Therefore, please reach out to us if you can be best supported in your learning and training through our scholarships or bursaries.
NSIP conferred with over 40 Intimacy Professionals in Canada to create a list of National Standards that NSIP recognizes as areas in that IPs should have proficiency in.
Where do I find an IC/ID?
NSIP is the leading society for Intimacy Professionals in Canada. We actively work with unions and organizations to help set better standards in our artistic industries. NSIP is currently in its first uptake for membership, and we are excited about building our team and database of qualified persons to serve our community. In the meantime, should you be looking for an IC/ID in your area, please reach out to us at email@example.com with the job and location, and we will put you in touch with professionals in your area.
How do I hire an ID/IC?
Please note that NSIP is not an agency and cannot facilitate your business relationship we are only a resource for our community.
As with any new addition to your team, it is important to do your due diligence in researching an individual’s suitability for your project. We recommend that you interview your candidate, review their resume and relevant training, check in with unions they are affiliated with, and call relevant references.
Due to the sensitive nature of this work portfolio and reels may not be readily available.
I don’t see vast representation in the intimacy profession. Are there limits on who can be an Intimacy Professional? Can I be an Intimacy Professional?
Until now, various structures have created barriers for many folks looking to train in the intimacy field. We know the education required for this role is not readily accessible to all folks. We also acknowledge that some folks may not feel welcome to pursue this field. We seek to remove these barriers and change these mindsets to welcome all interested candidates. Therefore, please reach out to us if you can be best supported in your learning and training with our scholarships or bursaries or if other aspects of the training require adjustments to support your learning.
Please note, like any job or role, not everyone is suited to be an intimacy professional. However, that does not exclude anyone from training in the field. Whether you want to become an intimacy professional or supplement your existing practice, there are many skills and tools that can benefit anyone’s creative process. We invite everyone to check out our available workshops and resource hub.
Where can I train?
NSIP offers ongoing professional training on Intimacy Direction and Intimacy Coordination topics. Also, there are various organizations worldwide that host training. We encourage you to take multiple courses from different instructors and groups!
For people who are interested in knowing more about intimacy and how the practice intersects with their profession, we offer general interest and topic-based workshops. We have courses for actors, directors, stage managers, 1st ADs, etc.
If you would like to be notified of upcoming workshops, please sign up for our newsletter here, or follow us on social media.
Are there industry standards for this work?
Yes! Within recent years there have been best practices, protocols and training standards in continuous development for productions to implement through various Unions and Organizations around the world. Even if you are not a member of these organizations, you are invited to engage with these standards as a foundation for your own Best Practices.
Some places to look, depending on your needs:
- Equity/CAEA (articles 18:27, 18:29, 31 and 64)
- ACTRA National
- ACTRA Toronto
- DOT Agreement
- SAG-AFTRA (for our American friends)
BECTU (for our European friends)
How much does it cost to hire an ID/IC?
NSIP aligns with the viewpoint that safety should not be a privilege that only certain people or groups can afford. While all NSIP Intimacy Professionals follow a national rate to set a standard of sustainable income, NSIP Intimacy Professionals are encouraged to negotiate and adjust those rates depending on the needs and circumstances of the project. Your Intimacy Professional might be open to in-kind donations, energy exchange, or other mutually beneficial offers to the project and the Intimacy Professional for a subsidized rate. Ask your ID/IC for their rate card, and let them know if you need to negotiate a rate different from the national standard to see what agreement might be reached.
How do I know if I have hired the right person?
Intimacy Professionals trained or recognized by NSIP are accountable to the community to maintain good standing and updated training and review. That said, it is up to the discretion of the hiring authority (producer, executive producer, production manager, etc.) of a project to review the expertise and professionalism of a hired IP by reviewing their resume, references and IMDb listings. The first available intimacy professional may not be the right fit as each IP has their own specializations and unique way of working.
What is a nudity/simulated intercourse rider?
A nudity and/or simulated intercourse rider is a legal document that clarifies for everyone involved in the production, including the Intimacy Coordinator and the actor’s agent, in legal terms, what the performer is consenting to perform as well as what will be depicted in the formal cut of production.
Part of the Intimacy Professional’s job is to provide terms in the conversational language, or “layperson terms” for the legal team to implement into a rider. These terms may include additional measures production will take for performer safety (modesty garments, closed sets, etc.) and specific notes about nudity and/or simulated sex choreography.
NSIP’s Intimacy Professional members provide proof of training and/or experience required to facilitate the writing of the “Layperson terms” for the nudity or simulated intercourse riders. This process involves discussing with production and liaison with the legal team on any details regarding the needs and protection of the performer.
What do I do if I experience an issue on set, in rehearsal or during my work?
NSIP can’t advise you here on your specific case, but if there is an intimacy professional on your project, connect with them for advice. If not, you are invited to engage in any of the processes below that serve you best.
- Engage in conversation
- Ask for support from a third party
- Contact your local union or agent (if represented by one of these bodies).
- For ACTRA and CAEA members, call HAVEN Helpline & LifeWorks for counselling and support services, and critical incident reporting
What do I do if I experience an issue on set, in rehearsal or during my work with an Intimacy Professional represented by NSIP?
NSIP is not responsible nor liable for the actions of our members working outside of the society. However, if you have concerns about a member acting against NSIP’s Code of Conduct or Best Practices, please forward your concerns to the Membership Review Committee, firstname.lastname@example.org
How do I get involved with NSIP?
- Are you an Intimacy Professional? Become a member!
- Apply to become a committee volunteer or a Friend of NSIP!
- Are you Canadian and interested in leadership? Apply to our Board of Directors!
- Are you a company that offers resources for Intimacy Professionals? Become a Friend of NSIP!