Actors union working on new standards for onscreen intimacy amid #MeToo movement

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Driven by the #MeToo movement and the recent wave of attention on sexual harassment in the entertainment industry, the union representing actors and other artists announced Sunday that it is working with groups and professionals to develop a set of standards for the depiction of on- screen intimacy.

“Our goal is to normalize and promote the use of intimacy coordinators within our industry,” said Gabrielle Carteris, president of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. “Intimacy coordinators provide an important safety net for our members doing hyper-exposed work. At a time when the industry still needs to make great changes, our initiative will ensure the safety and security of SAG-AFTRA members while they work and respects the boundaries of actors.”

SAG-AFTRA will work with Alicia Rodis, the associate director and co- founder of Intimacy Directors International, and other “trained providers to standardize, codify and implement guidelines for on-set intimacy coordinators,” the union said in a statement released Sunday. The guidelines will “seek to establish new, relevant policies for nudity and simulated sex; define the duties and standards for intimacy coordinators on productions; and specify acceptable training, vetting and qualifications of intimacy coordinators.”

The union’s executive director, David White, added: “These specifically implemented guidelines will allow productions to run more efficiently while the specialized support empowers both cast and crew. We look forward to working with our industry partners and allies to ensure these guidelines work for our members and others on set. Many productions are already using intimacy coordinators so it is imperative to codify and standardize the work to best benefit SAG-AFTRA members and the industry as a whole.”

According to IDI’s website, the not-for-profit group was founded in 2016 “to support the growing speciality of Intimacy Directors, and share a process for approaching scenes of intimacy to the entire performing arts industry.”

SAG-AFTRA represents approximately 160,000 actors, announcers, broadcast journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists and other entertainment and media professionals.

In February 2018, SAG-AFTRA adopted a code of conduct aimed at combating sexual harassment in the entertainment and media industries.

The code provides a four-pronged approach dubbed “The Four Pillars of Change,” that focuses on rules and guidelines, empowerment through education, expanded intervention and providing a safety net for victims.

“This initiative gives members a clear understanding of their workplace rights and provides reliable guidance for members to navigate the unique environments of the entertainment, music and media industries,” Carteris said in 2018. “To truly change the culture, we must be courageous and willing. At it’s most basic, this Code will ultimately help better define what harassment is, and what members’ rights are in real world situations.”

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