Acacia was incredible and I am so honored to have worked with them. They created a safe and compassionate dynamic in rehearsal and on set that freed us to have fun with what could otherwise be an uncomfortable scene to shoot. But beyond that, they influenced the word-building of this sci-fi story, helping craft a rich philosophy around human-android relationships based on consent and free from biased gazes. As we rehearsed choreography and brainstormed camera angles, they saved me from pulling influence from objectifying imagery of past cinema. Instead, we created a scene that centers character development and emotion. Like having a stunt coordinator on set for stunts, I cannot imagine ever filming an intimacy scene again without an intimacy coordinator. I am a fan of Acacia’s forever and can’t wait to work together again.
Amanda Jane Stern
As an actor who had had experiences both good and bad with filming intimate scenes, I knew going into Perfectly Good Moment that an Intimacy Coordinator was absolutely essential in bringing this story to life. As the writer, producer, and lead of Perfectly Good Moment I knew that the set had to be a safe and open place, not only for me, but for everyone else involved in the film, which dealt heavily with intimacy. By luck I met Acacia, and after talking with them over the phone I knew that they were exactly the IC to bring on. Since I was the writer on the film, I wrote the script with my own boundaries in mind, knowing that I would also be playing one of the two leads. But that doesn’t mean my co-star necessarily had the same boundaries as I, and I did not want to put him in a position where he felt he had to agree to something because I was comfortable with it. Having Acacia on board helped facilitate even more open communication between us so that we were able to reach a place where we felt incredibly comfortable. Because of all the work we did in advance of filming, by the time we got to set, my co-star and I were able to just have fun and even when shooting intense, intimate scenes, in between takes we could snap out of character and just laugh.
The expertise and passion that Acacia brought to the project enabled us to take what was on the page and make it even sexier. The saying goes “safe sex is sexy sex” and the same applies if the sex is simulated.
Acacia and I met while filming Perfectly Good Moment. As the costume designer and wardrobe supervisor, although my work appears on camera, I do not. However, from the first-day on-set, it became crystal clear that although it was the actors who would be performing scenes that were sexually violent in nature, Acacia’s priority was for every single person behind the scenes to feel safe too. They explained that the script included sexual violence, that it could potentially trigger someone, and that they were a listening ear and resource should we need to step away at any moment and talk to someone. This made the set not only a comfortable place to work, but a place I looked forward to going to every day; I felt assured that, even if I wasn’t the one directly involved in those scenes, my concerns and experiences would not be overlooked. Acacia was a pillar of support in our workplace.
The absolute best part of being a producer is being able to handpick your team. When Acacia and I sat down (over Zoom) to talk about the project, what kind of themes I was working with, the vision I had, and the story I wanted to tell as the director I was put at ease by their conscientious note taking, and ability to easily affirm and add to the key points that were important to me.
As one of the actors performing intimacy, the space for grace they intentionally created in the rehearsal room gave my scene partner and I the opportunity to trust and therefore collaborate and really work with the script.
Their awareness of and ability to add dynamics and an arc to an intimacy scene and guide actors in the rehearsal room to that end is what made me, as a director, look forward to having them on set. A stigma I’ve been aware of in terms of Intimacy Coordinators on set is that they might “waste” time on set imposing warm ups or exercises that might make the crew anxious about time ticking by. That misconception could not have been further from my experience with Acacia on the set of Kissing Kerouac. They were flexible, efficient, definitive in giving feedback and adjustments, and most importantly supportive of the story, while quietly and effectively holding space for my co-star and I to check-in, and take time if (and only if) we needed it to center ourselves and prepare for what the actions of the scene required.
I was quite pleased with Acacia’s contribution to my project throughout the pre-production process and immensely grateful for their presence on set.
I didn’t think an intimacy coordinator would be so needed on set until I had this experience. Having Acacia as an intimacy coordinator was a reassurement that everything was going to go well and smoothly. From the get-go, we started with active exercises to get us acquainted with the actors and crew. The fact that we had choreography for the whole scene really put me at ease and made me feel that I had control of the situation. The difference from the first time that me and my fellow actor practiced the scene, to the actual scene, was immense! I felt so comfortable, and I knew we were on the same page, because Acacia gave us the space to express the things that we were and were not comfortable with. The communication and the detail was impeccable. I would always request an intimacy coordinator for any intimate scenes I may have to do in the future. Acacia also helped me discover things about my character that wouldn’t have come up without this process. I was lucky to have a knowledgable third party involved in the scene. Thanks, Acacia!
I am so grateful to have Acacia as a mentor and colleague. Acacia is deeply knowledgeable and sincerely committed to harm reduction in our industry. I see this every day in their dedication to sharing what they’ve learned with others in the hopes that everyone can learn how to work in a more consent-based way. They have a strong, carefully developed artistic point of view that could benefit any project. When you meet them, you immediately sense their kind, calming, and trustworthy presence and are put at ease. You know that they really care, which can be so helpful to actors who may struggle to communicate their boundaries. I am certain that Acacia will only continue to find more success in this field. I value their input and expertise extremely highly and would not hesitate to recommend them for any production.
As a new Intimacy Coordinator, I found myself turning to Acacia again and again for consistent, professional, relevant, and practical guidance in this burgeoning and necessary industry. They bring experience and education to every interaction, thus resulting in informed practices to promote safe, productive, and creative projects!
Marguerite Harper, LMHC
Therapist, Intimacy Coordinator
I have worked with Acacia a lot in the past and would 100% recommend hiring them on your team. They are hardworking, punctual, creative, and a great person to bounce your ideas off of/brainstorm with. Most importantly, Acacia is a genuine person who is always incredibly pleasant to be around. Together we have worked on a range of projects from marketing campaigns to comedy sketches.
Comedian, Director of Photography
I have known Acacia for the past 5 years and have worked with them personally on many film sets. Both in their personal and professional life Acacia demonstrates a strong creative perspective that elevates every project they are a part of. Having lived with Acacia for almost a year I can attest that their creativity never rests. Whether it is through their painting, drawing, costume design, sewing or interior decorating Acacia is constantly exercising their creative gifts in ways that would make them perfect for a role in production design.
Acacia also brings with them a determination that greatly benefits a film set. Having worked with Acacia on multiple sets I know that their determination allows them to tackle problems head on, give honest feedback, and always work towards the best possible outcome. One such instance occurred on set when, out of necessity, Acacia was able to single handedly perform sound recording for a whole day of the shoot. Through the education and training they received at Vassar College I have seen their determination and skills grow tremendously as an artist.
Overall, I believe Acacia would be a great asset to any film set they are on.
– Vassar College Alumni and Filmmaker
Matthew Edward Mueller, CRC
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Acacia Willis for five years and I am honored to give my full-throated recommendation of them. During their academic study at Vassar College, I worked with them in a coaching relationship, and in that time I witnessed a profound growth, personally and professionally.
We met every week for four years, discovering strategies for Acacia to excel academically while also engaging in a number of co-curricular activities and personal projects related to gender, sexuality, and film. They shared this passion during our meetings and we’ve continued to plan for how their skill set and interests would best be used in these spheres. They are committed, caring, and an asset to any team.
The office in which I work at Vassar College is small; at the time of Acacia’s graduation, there were four of us. From early on, Acacia took the time to get to know team members and made it a priority to build a relationship with us. Acacia was one of the first students to sign up as a peer mentor in our office during their second year. They eagerly took on responsibilities within the office and around campus related to physical and social accessibility, advocating for their peers and increasing disability awareness. Their role has yet to be filled since their graduation, as we haven’t found another student as capable and trust-worthy as Acacia. Personally, I am forever grateful for the time I spent with Acacia. Their openness, honesty, creativity, and willingness to be vulnerable and try things differently is unmatched in any of the other students I coach.
To conclude this letter of recommendation, I will reiterate that Acacia clearly has a passion for intimacy coordinating and film that needs to be tapped. I’ve witnessed them grow as a student and as a person, not afraid to make mistakes and learn lessons. They speak with candor and share their narrative with others; Acacia shared their experiences as a student with a disability with the Transitions Program, offering ideas to create inclusive, supportive spaces. They’ve brainstormed creative and unique solutions to problems and challenges using determination and grit.
Matthew Edward Mueller, CRC
– Moorhead Academic Coach, Vassar College
Timothy Koechlin, PhD
It has been great to have Acacia in my class. Their comments have been reliably smart and generous, and they often elevate and energize our conversations. They have often stepped into a silence at a key moment, and are willing to articulate a point of view that might provoke. Acacia brings a rich, curious, perspective that is not typical of many IS majors – and I’ve appreciated that very much. A friend (a grad school friend, now a professor at Earlham College) and I decided some years back that student comments tend to fall between two poles. Some are “generous” while others are “contentious.” Generous comments invite classmates to join in, and tend to acknowledge the contributions of other classmates. They elevate the discussion, and encourage a conversation. Contentious commenters tend to be competitive – looking to “win the argument,” looking to be “right.” The former is a great gift to a teacher and to the class – and, by the way, a model for enriching encounters of all sorts. Acacia falls squarely into this category.
When I encountered Acacia a few years back, it was clear that they were a smart, curious, person — already great, and full of promise. A few years later, they are even more impressive! Acacia’s insights, their writing, and the confidence with which they deliver their story is so impressive.
Acacia has done some terrific work over the past few years. There is more of that to come. But beyond that – and more important than that – I admire their willingness and determination to challenge themselves, intellectually, personally, artistically and politically.
Acacia’s got a lot of tools, and they are going to have a lot of choices. I’ll be interested to see what Acacia does with all of their potential. My guess is that they’ll be part of a few great projects. They really are a talented story teller, commentator and writer, and a clear, nervy and creative thinker. I hope they’ll continue to use these skills, somehow. I’m sure they will. I look forward to the day when they’re famous, and I’ll be able to brag that I knew Acacia back when…
Timothy Koechlin, PhD
–Senior Lecturer in International Studies and Urban Studies and Director of International Studies at Vassar College