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VILNIUS 2024 Meeting Point Vilnius

Amanda Blumenthal leads intimacy co-ordination training in Vilnius


- The intimacy co-ordinator for film and television productions in Los Angeles delivered a four-hour lecture on this important topic at the 15th Meeting Point Vilnius

Amanda Blumenthal leads intimacy co-ordination training in Vilnius
Amanda Blumenthal during her training session (© Lorenzo Charlez)

Amanda Blumenthal, a leading intimacy co-ordinator for film and television productions in Los Angeles, who has worked on hit shows including Euphoria and The White Lotus, delivered a four-hour lecture session on intimacy co-ordination at the 15th Meeting Point Vilnius, the industry event held during the Vilnius International Film Festival (Kino Pavasaris) in Lithuania on 25 March.

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Blumenthal is the founder of the Intimacy Professionals Association, an agency representing intimacy professionals and an educational organisation that offers training programmes, and was also a primary contributor to the SAG-AFTRA Standards and Protocols for the Use of Intimacy Co-ordinators, released in January 2020.

The position of intimacy co-ordinator, though it existed in theatre, did not become established in film and television until 2017. Just seven years on, the processes and protocols have become codified. Every major television show in the USA will have an intimacy co-ordinator for scenes with intimate physical contact, nudity or simulated sex, who can advocate for the safety of the actors, and facilitate clear communication and informed consent.

“We’re working at warp speed here in terms of the film and television industry,” said Blumenthal in regard to how quickly new processes around intimacy scenes have been adopted in the States. The rise of intimacy co-ordinators came with the #MeToo movement in 2017, when the tacit acceptance of sexual harassment as an inherent part of the industry began to change and an urgent need was recognised to interrupt imbalanced power dynamics between actors and production.

“If we look back at the history of filmmaking, there is a history of an abuse of power,” said Blumenthal. “Then came this really big cultural moment, where the industry had to face its demons and ask itself whether it could just keep going as before.”

One of the first intimacy co-ordinators in the world, Blumenthal is a former sex and relationship coach, who first entered the role on the set of Euphoria, a show with a young cast and many nude and simulated sex scenes. “It was diving in at the deep end,” she said. She had no choice but to hone her skills through trial and error – an approach the staunch advocate of training does not recommend, stressing that real damage can be done through an intimacy co-ordinator who does not know what they are doing.

Europe and other parts of the world have started to follow suit, incorporating intimacy co-ordination as an integral part of production. Aside from the USA, Blumenthal has carried out training and has assisted in implementation in the UK, Japan, India, Israel, Brazil, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Nordic and Baltic regions, and more.

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, the first Lithuanian feature to hire an intimacy co-ordinator, was presented by Baltic Intimacy Professionals as part of the session. The film, which was directed by Marija Kavtaradze and was Lithuania’s 2023 Oscar entry, is about the bond that builds between a dancer and a sign-language interpreter.

Producer Marija Razgute said the incorporation of intimacy co-ordination was a wholly positive experience. “I’m really proud of it, to be honest, because it’s a new normal,” she said. “Sometimes, people try to fight progress and might ask why suddenly, for example, we need computers. But having an intimacy co-ordinator prevents risks – it’s a safety thing.”

Other topics that Blumenthal covered included for which scenes an intimacy co-ordinator is required or recommended, how they interact with the other departments, advice for the casting process, how to make productions safer when there is not one involved, and modesty garments.

Resistance is still common, said Blumenthal. “One of the biggest issues we run into is directors being afraid of us directing. A lot of the time, it’s because they don’t know what the job is – they think that the intimacy co-ordinator will want to take over, and they are afraid of losing creative control of the project.

“The intimacy co-ordinator isn’t there to make the project less explicit or sexy, but to help the director realise their vision,” she said. “Their job is to support all of the parties involved – while approaching it from the perspective of what is needed by the person who feels most unsafe in the room.”

The lecture of Amanda Blumenthal was an initiative of Baltic Intimacy Professionals, jointly funded by BAFF and Avaka.

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