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Industry Guidelines For Intimacy On Stage And For Screen To Be Launched Tonight

This evening, the performers union, Equity New Zealand, formally launches the Intimacy Guidelines for Stage and Screen in New Zealand to their peers from across the industry.

Equity President and New Zealander of the Year 2020, Jennifer Ward-Lealand, together with Equity Vice-President , Tandi Wright, and in consultation with industry guilds and unions have been developing the guidelines over the last 2 years.

“In 2015 after hearing of some very challenging, and in some cases dangerous experiences actors were having with intimate scenes, Equity gathered a panel of performers to share their experiences with members. It was from this event we created the first Equity Guidelines to Performing Nudity and Simulated Sex on Stage and Screen,” says Jennifer Ward-Lealand.

These new and expanded guidelines, Intimacy Guidelines for Stage and Screen, aim to:

  • Create respectful processes for all workers in the stage and screen industries
  • Encourage best practice and open communication around the performance of intimate scenes
  • Ensure informed consent is at the core of all intimacy work
  • Ensure that a sense of play, trust and goodwill remain central to the creative process
  • Encourage the use of an Intimacy Coordinator where appropriate
  • Outline industry expectations even where a production does not engage an Intimacy Coordinator
  • Best serve the spirit and intention of the project

This work, and this way of thinking about and executing intimate scenes is relatively new. In the post #metoo era, New Zealand is one of the leading practitioners globally, shifting practice and culture and establishing a highly trained pool of experienced Intimacy Coordinators under the mentorship of Intimacy Coordinator, Ita O’Brien, Founder of Intimacy on Set in the UK.

Jennifer Ward-Lealand explains: “Intimate scenes are where the performer is most vulnerable and most exposed - people can get hurt in these scenes, either physically or psychologically. Again and again we come back to the comparison with stunts, because it helps reframe the way we all think about these scenes. What level of care would you put into a stunt scene, how much resource and planning? Would you hire a stunt coordinator?”

Tandi Wright says “Let’s not forget that our statistics are horrific - one in three NZers will experience some form of sexual abuse in their life, so between all of your cast and all of your crew it is not a possibility there will be people living with sexual trauma, it is a certainty.

These scenes are an absolutely legitimate part of the actor’s work but everyone needs to be safe when they go to work - cast and crew.”

The guidelines were created in consultation with, and are endorsed by, Equity New Zealand, The Screen Production and Development Association of New Zealand, Screen Safe, The Screen Industry Guild, Directors & Editors Guild of New Zealand, Women in Film & Television and the Actors Agents Association of New Zealand and are drawn from the previous Equity New Zealand Guidelines, MEAA Intimacy Guidelines for Stage and Screen, Ita O’Brien, Intimacy On Set and ‘The Pillars’, used by Intimacy Directors International.

The guidelines are freely available at:

https://equity.org.nz/resources/

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