Intimacy Coordinator Rules Tightened By SAG-AFTRA After Off-Set Indiscretions

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EXCLUSIVE: Intimacy coordinators could find themselves out of a job if they are indiscreet with the privacy of the filmmakers they work with, SAG-AFTRA says.

Following recent revelations about what went on in the filming of the Jenna Ortega and Martin Freeman-starring Miller’s Girl, the Guild has tightened up its Standards and Protocols for the use of Intimacy Coordinators – especially when it comes to confidentiality. As a part of the stricter measures, any intimacy coordinator who does not adhere to the required standards could potentially be removed from SAG-AFTRA’s registry after an investigation by the Guild, I hear.

“Intimacy coordinators are a crucial resource on any set to ensure the protection of our members working in intimate scenes,” a SAG-AFTRA spokesperson told Deadline today of the new rules. While there could be a reason for an intimacy coordinator to speak off-set about what went on in intimate instances on-set, they likely could only be involving law enforcement or with the distinct permission of the actors and the production.

“Intimacy coordinators should maintain the confidentiality of an actor’s work and experience in performing highly sensitive scenes unless they have the actor’s permission to publicly share this information,” the Guild rep added in language mirroring the new edition to the S&P requirements. “The public release of details about an actor’s scene work or confidences entrusted to the intimacy coordinator without the performer’s consent is unacceptable.”

Both representatives for distributor Lionsgate and Ortega had “no comment” on the Miller’s Girl matter or SAG-AFTRA’s increased confidentiality measures.

Approximately 77 individuals are currently on the SAG-AFTRA IC pre-registry and registry, which was established in 2022. In the blast radius of the #MeToo movement and a slew of Hollywood sex scandals plus rape allegations and lawsuits, the Guild’s Sexual Harassment Work Group in 2019 began establishing protocols for on-set nudity and simulated sex scenes. SAG-AFTRA in March 2022 accredited seven intimacy-coordinator training programs to expand the pool of qualified and available intimacy coordinators.

The Guild’s registry does not independently credential or certifying intimacy coordinators.

“Members have to feel safe, comfortable and confident in engaging with intimacy coordinators,” a Guild source noted of the need to reinvigorate the requirements. A reinvigoration that came pretty fast in the aftermath of the Miller’s Girl IC talking at length last week with the Daily Mail after the Jade Halley Bartlett-directed and penned film was released wide on January 26.

Kristina Ariona signed a confidentiality agreement with Lionsgate as an employee of the film, as well as an NDA, sources tell me.

Seemingly disregarding those documents, Arjona told the tabloid about how supposedly involved Wednesday star Ortega was in the planning of the sex scenes in the film. Those scenes have been the subject of some derision, as has the cringey premise of Miller’s Girl which sees an affair between Ortega’s 18-year-old character and 52-year-old Freeman’s teacher/mentor.

Martin Freeman & Jenna Ortega in Miller’s Girl // Credit: Lionsgate

Zac Popik

A not insignificant component of the most recent contract with the studios, streamers and producers, intimacy coordinators have been part of SAG-AFTRA’s now 160,000 strong membership since 2022.

While Michael Caine and Sean Bean may cast scorn on the need for intimacy coordinators’ presence on film and TV sets, the likes of Lena Waithe, Emma Thompson and HBO have said they view the intimacy coordinators as a sign of progress in Tinseltown and “fantastically important.” In that vein, the 2023 SAG-AFTRA contract with the AMPTP, which came after months of picket lines and strikes, specifically includes a non-retaliation clause for actors/members who request an intimacy coordinator, in what has become a fairly mainstream part of the industry nowadays.

“This helps protect our members,” then SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White said in 2020 as the Guild put out its initial guide to the role of intimacy coordinators. “We wanted to keep it simple and keep it easy for the industry to embrace.”

Four years later, things have clearly gotten a bit more complex.

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