By CityLife Arts Writer
The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), the Independent Producers Organisation (IPO) and Netflix have picked their trainee co-ordinators.
“The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), the Independent Producers Organisation (IPO) and Netflix are pleased to announce the trainees for the Intimacy Coordinators in South Africa. The training is being facilitated by Safe Sets, a South African company that offers trained intimacy coordinators for film, television and theatre productions both locally and internationally,” a media release states.
Following the open call for prospective trainee applications, which was open from 15 to 30 August 2022, six candidates were selected – five from South Africa and one from the Middle East – with priority being given to previously disadvantaged individuals. Candidates went through intensive tutor-lead online training over 8 weeks, commencing on 19 September, followed by 6 days of rigorous in-person training, plus additional courses providing qualifications in skills such as Mental Health First Aid and Sexual Harassment Awareness.
In-person training is currently underway (5-9 December) in Johannesburg, following which the candidates will be placed on professional production sets – on Netflix productions, NFVF-funded productions or IPO members’ productions. Under mentorship, they will complete 30-days on set, after which they will have officially graduated from the programme as fully certified and internationally accredited ICT practitioners.
The role of an Intimacy Coordinator (IC) – which has become invaluable to productions around the world – is to keep actors safe on set during scenes involving nudity, simulated sex, and other types of intimacy work, while also helping to realise the director’s and screenwriter’s creative vision. To date, those wanting to pursue this emerging specialist field as a career have had to travel to other countries and enrol in costly training programmes.
While the industry has long had the practice of ‘closed sets’ (where only essential cast and crew may be on set during the filming of intimate scenes), after 14 months of industry collaboration, the South African film industry came together to create a set of protocols to provide detailed guidelines for producers, cast and crew when filming such scenes. Intimacy Coordinators on set ensure that best practice is carried out at all stages of production, in line with the latest protocols, and maintain workspaces that respect the actors’ boundaries while serving the artistic vision of the production.
Allison Triegaardt, Netflix Manager for Grow Creative in Africasays, “At Netflix, we’re committed to creating a respectful and inclusive environment for cast and staff who work on our productions. That’s why we believe the role of an Intimacy Coordinator to be a vital one – and have included them in many of our shows like Sex/Life and Bridgerton, where intimate scenes are important for the show’s narrative. Training more ICs for Africa’s film & TV industry will go a long way towards reinforcing a respectful environment for our storytellers so they can continue to deliver their best work for our members around the world.”
Makhosazana Khanyile, CEO of the NFVF, adds:“In order to create a sustainable creative media industry, as the NFVF we recognize how crucial it is to ensure that we have an empowered workforce that is encouraged to perform adequately in any given environment. In recent years, we’ve borne witness to global movements that have caused the industry to pay attention to the way in which the vulnerable nature of intimate scenes has been neglected. On the South African front, it gives us great pleasure to address this issue practically and its greater GBVF implications through crucial training on intimacy scenes where sometimes the lines are blurred as to what is acceptable and what not only borders on but is indeed sexual misconduct and harassment.”
“And, as the IPO,” says a delighted Thandi Davids, Co-Chair of the IPO, “we couldn’t be happier to be part of launching this programme. Not only will this contribute to safe working environments for film & TV professionals, it will also increase the number of Black and women freelancers working at Head of Department level in the industry.”