New Mexico Film Office aims to create safer sets with new training

Community Reports

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A select group of New Mexico residents have begun training for a unique and relatively new position on film sets. The New Mexico Film Office is offering training courses to equip applicants to be certified intimacy coordinators.

Intimacy coordinators work on film and television productions to create a safer work environment for actors performing in scenes involving physical touch, nudity, intimacy, and simulated sex. The film office partnered with the Intimacy Professionals Association (IPA) Intimacy Coordinator Training Program, the first agency in the world to solely specialize in representing intimacy professionals.

The training is taught by Amanda Blumenthal, IPA’s founder and the first intimacy coordinator for film and television in Los Angeles. The 16-week training begins with foundational topics such as consent, power dynamics, and boundaries. They will also work on the skills needed to be on a film set and what is required of an intimacy coordinator during rehearsals for scenes.

One of the many misconceptions Blumenthal comes across is that having an intimacy coordinator will take away from a scene or ruin the chemistry, which is the opposite of what happens in her experience. “My job is to make sure the performers feel safe and are able to focus on what they need to do in the scene. I work with how they work, whether that’s something more improvisational or something more heavily choreographed,” Blumenthal said.

New Mexico Film Office Director Amber Dodson said this program is the first of its kind in the state. “We’re really excited to support a training like this. We are really behind initiatives that foster safe, inclusive, and collaborative sets, and intimacy coordinators are really critical to creating those kinds of sets,” Dodson said. “Performers and the content creators are greatly empowered by having an intimacy coordinator on set. We want to say, ‘Hey, if you want an intimacy coordinator on your set, we’ve got people for you.'”

Blumenthal said it’s surprising how new the concept of having an intimacy coordinator is on productions, but was a necessary evolution for the industry because of the #metoo and #timesup movement which gained momentum in 2017. “Before then, people knew that there was an issue with how intimacy scenes are handled in the film industry, but no one was really talking about it. Because of those movements, I think that really opened people’s eyes to the issue and the discussion of safety on set because so many people have had traumatic experiences,” Blumenthal said.

This first round of training is currently underway, and Dodson said as demand grows for the position and becomes more standard on sets, the film office will work on providing more trainings in the future. “We want to be a leader in creating a more safe, diverse, equitable place to produce content and one of the ways we can help foster that kind of environment is by supporting intimacy coordination,” Dodson said.

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