What is the Golden Age of Screen Intimacy?

The Golden Age of Screen Intimacy will be a period in Hollywood’s cinematic future where scenes of intimacy and nudity are safe, sexy, and healthy. In essence this means films and television can be safely watched, filmed, and learned from. Intimacy is story-driven, engaging, and authentic. And the filmmakers – including actors and crew – are not harmed during filming.


What will characterize the Golden Age of Screen Intimacy?


Plot-driven intimacy contributes to the story as a whole

Within Hollywood Cinema, it is understood that each line, prop, and scene is meant to be important to the story.  So too, will intimacy scenes contribute to the story by propelling the plot forward.


Choreography is prepared with the help of an intimacy coordinator at least 48 hours before filming

One of the easiest ways to make a scene of intimacy safe and sexy is to choreograph it in advance with the help of a qualified intimacy coordinator. In the Golden Age of Screen Intimacy, all scenes will be choreographed at least 48 hours in advance so that actors have time to ruminate on their comfort level performing the scene and make any necessary adjustments. Choreographing in advance will also give the intimacy coordinator enough time to troubleshoot and prepare the appropriate barriers, exercises or warm ups, and nudity riders.


Cinematography focuses on the characters and their story instead of their body parts

When viewing intimacy on-screen, the framing of the scene will be purposeful in including movements and body parts that contribute to the story and plot.  This means no longer focusing on “sexual” body parts such as breasts, buttocks, and lips unless they convey to the audience something about the characters and their experience.


Camera perspectives during a scene of intimacy are consistent with the rest of the film

The perspective of the camera – be it the perspective of a character (or multiple characters), filmmaker, or “neutral” observer – will stay consistent throughout the film, including any scenes of intimacy.  By staying consistent, audience members can remain within the world of the film.


Intimacy is incorporated into the whole story

Physical intimacy will be dispersed throughout the script and dialogue naturally as opposed to being reserved for “the sex scene”.


Bodies are censored and rated in the same way

Standardizing the censorship and rating criteria of male, female, trans, fat, Asian, disabled, gay, and Black bodies, etc will de-stigmatize, de-sexualize, and de-eroticize diverse groups of people in the media. Traditions such as the Hays code have long plagued Hollywood cinema but in the Golden Age of Screen Intimacy, diverse and authentic representations of intimacy and sexuality will be shown to broader audiences because they will not be considered more risqué than their white, straight, cis, abled counterparts.


Intimacy scenes are consensual

Scenes of intimacy on-screen will demonstrate active consent practices between characters.  Similarly, actors and filmmakers will participate in active consent practices throughout the filmmaking process.


Actor safety is science-backed 

The production of intimate scenes has inherent risks which cannot be engineered away, such as STI transmission, the creation or triggering of trauma, and physical injury.  These will all be considered when filming a scene of intimacy and a plan for science-backed harm-reduction put into place to keep actors as safe as possible.


STIs are discussed and disclosed

Risks of STI transmission and tools for harm reduction including barriers, testing, medication, and hygiene will be discussed both on and off-screen.   Actors will get tested before filming and self-disclose so that the appropriate tools and resources can be provided to reduce the risk of transmission.


Barriers and other safety tools are used properly when filming intimacy scenes

Filming simulated sex with the strategic use of barriers and other safety tools in place of real sexual intercourse will be standard on all sets.  This will reduce the chances of unwanted sexual touching, STI transmission, and harassment.


Sexual harassment and assault are given appropriate content warnings

All on-screen violence will be marked with an appropriate content warning, determined with the help of a professional such as an intimacy coordinator. All cast and crew will also be given the appropriate content warnings at least 48 hours before filming a scene.


Violence is victim-centered

Violence such as harassment and assault, racial violence, and abuse will center the victim and give them a voice.  Particularly violent acts such as rape will be omitted visually to reduce the potential for harm for actors, crew, and audience members.  It will not glorify the perpetrator or only give voice to their perspective.


Intimacy coordinators are present for all scenes of intimacy and nudity

Intimacy coordinators will be active members of the crew throughout the filmmaking process for productions including intimacy and/or nudity.  During the Golden Age of Screen Intimacy, intimacy coordinators will be department heads hired before casting and consulted all the way through post-production to reduce the potential for harm for cast, crew, and audience members.


Intimacy coordinating is recognized as an artistic field

As intimacy coordinators become standard on set, resulting in actors and crews becoming familiar with safety measures, intimacy coordinators will be freed to focus on more artistic aspect of scenes of intimacy. During the Golden Age of Screen Intimacy choreography styles will diversify and become more niche, lending itself to artistic distinction in the field. Award categories for intimacy coordinators will be created in events and festivals. Credit will be given within films and tv shows the same way a stunt coordinator, director of photography, or costume designer would receive credit. Academic departments will open to further study and teach the practice of intimacy coordinating. And a body of literature will be written dedicated to the development of thought in the field.


The majority of stories are sex-positive and factual

While intimacy should always serve the story and portray the level of sex education a character has received, intimacy and sex represented in the industry as a whole will be positive and factual overall during the Golden Age of Screen Intimacy.


BDSM and kink relationships on screen are healthy

Portrayals of BDSM and kink relationships will be consensual.  They will portray healthy practices such as aftercare, safety words, and proper hygiene.  They will portray healthy relationships and will not serve as a stand-in for abusive relationships portraying domestic violence.


A qualified intimacy coordinator or rigger is present for scenes of bondage (including torture) 

Scenes of bondage or torture including the immobility or cuffing of any body part on an actor will be overseen by a qualified intimacy coordinator or rigger trained in both physical and mental safety.


Lube, toys, and props are used during sex scenes (outside comedy)

Props including lube, sex toys, and assistive aids such as wedges and swings will be normalized in on-screen intimacy as part of healthy sexual activity.  Normalizing the use of these items will create more interesting and adaptive scenes, normalize safe sex practices, and encourage experimentation.  While it is ideal for intimacy to be story-driven, the Golden Age of Screen intimacy will not need to justify the use of such items in healthy sexual play.


Foreplay is shown or indicated before sex

Foreplay is an important and healthy part of sexual play, particularly before penetrative sex. In the Golden Age of Intimacy, foreplay will either be shown or indicated when demonstrating a normal and healthy sexual encounter.


Sounds of intimacy are realistic

The noises actors make during scenes of intimacy will sound authentic and diverse. They will largely be based in breathwork. Actors will have time to rehearse sounds before filming and be given instruction on finding character based sounds that they are comfortable performing.


Intimacy scenes feature diverse characters

Intimacy is something people of every age, race, gender, ability, and size etc. engage in.  During the Golden Age of Screen Intimacy, scenes will reflect this diversity.


Non-monogamous and polyamorous relationships are healthy

Non-monogamous and polyamorous relationships will be characterized by strong communication including discussions of STI’s, jealousy, and consent.


Sex workers engage in consensual sex 

Sex workers on screen will be depicted in consensual sex scenes. This means the characters are informed about the acts clients want to engage in and they agree without coercion.


Diverse heroes use sex and sensuality as a tool or weapon

Traditionally in Hollywood Cinema, the only characters that could use sex or sexuality as a tool or weapon without being villanized were cisgender heterosexual men. In the Golden Age of Screen Intimacy, characters of all identities and backgrounds can utilize sex and sensuality to achieve their goals while remaining the hero of the story. This particularly applies to BIPOC characters, sex workers, and female characters.


The concept of virginity changes

The common understanding of virginity (as a woman having penetrative sex with a man for the first time where he proceeds to tear her hymen, causing her to bleed) is medically inaccurate and sexist. In the Golden Age of Cinema, virginity will be more broadly defined as an individual’s first sexual experience or, preferably, not be mentioned at all.


The frequency of showmances turning into off-screen romantic relationships decreases significantly

The frequency of on-screen romantic relationships, or “showmances,” turning into real life romantic relationships will decrease in Hollywood. That is because intimacy coordinators will help actors separate the simulated romantic feelings they get when performing in a scene from the rest of their lives through the use of closure practices.


On-screen intimacy redefines sex and intimacy in society

Sex and intimacy can happen in unique and diverse ways.  In the Golden Age of Screen Intimacy, sex and intimacy will be defined broadly including skin-to-skin contact, erotic play, and non-sexual touch.


Screen intimacy has a measurable impact on society

Media, including cinema, can be directly linked to trends and behaviors in society. The Golden Age of Screen Intimacy will be seen in its positive impact on statistics including diversity of kinks and fetishes, sexual assault rates, LGBTQIA+ acceptance, sex education, and consent practices.


Resources

GLAAD
Entertainment Media

Kristina Valentine
Minimizing Illness and the Transmission of Infections on Set: In Conversation with Evelin Dacker, MD


Questions?

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