Intimacy Coordinator Berlin
Actress Katja Weitzenböck has successfully completed the first training as an Intimacy Coordinator 2022 in Germany at Barbara Rohm’s Culture Change Hub in collaboration with TIE (Theatrical Intimacy Education).
“In the 30 years that I’ve been working as an actress on international film sets and theater stages, I’ve often experienced firsthand that portraying intimate scenes means an unusual situation for everyone involved, not just for the actors. Often enough I wished that these scenes would be given special care, that they would be better protected and prepared, that there would be more clear communication and consent, that fewer clichés would be created that arise from a lack of expertise and underlying excessive demands. Now I can offer this special care and professionalization of intimate scenes as an Intimacy Coordinator, and I’m very happy about that. I am convinced that Intimacy Coordination is necessary in dealing with intimate scenes and provides for a decisive improvement in the preparation, on the rehearsal stage or during shooting and in the end result.
In spring 2021 I saw a series on a streaming platform where intimate scenes struck me as particularly authentic, meaningful beyond words, varied and convincing. I wanted to know how the series came about and researched it online. I came across an interview with the lead actress in which she talked about the preparations for filming and that she and her male colleague worked with an intimacy coordinator. She said she never wanted to work without one again because it was so great and helpful. That was the first time I heard about Intimacy Coordination and I immediately thought: Wow. This is what I want to do, I want to learn this.
In addition to the extensive training to become an Intimacy Coordinator at the Culture Change Hub and continuous further studies, I also base my expertise on my many years of experience as an actress on international film sets and theater stages. I am at home in both areas, love them both, I am familiar with the processes and know the inner workings of the actors.
If the private intimacy of the actors is protected, they can fearlessly engage with the intimacy of their character and express it in its fullness and depth.”
Katja Weitzenböck, Intimacy Coordinator
© Stefan Klüter
The Intimacy Coordinator training at the Culture Chance Hub was created in cooperation with the BFFS (Federal Association of Acting/Stage/Film/Television/Language). It was supported by: BFFS, Medienboard Berlin Brandenburg, MOIN Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, ÖFI Austrian Film Institute, focal.
Many thanks to all sponsors!
An Intimacy Coordinator (IC) is hired by a film or theater production and supports the production in the portrayal of intimate scenes or scenes with nudity, sexual acts, kissing or sexualised violence.
Introduction from the Culture Change Hub:
“Intimacy Coordinators are partners of the director and the actors with the goal of creating authentic and moving scenes together. In order for the director’s vision to unfold, it is the Intimacy Coordinator’s function to choreograph emotion and relationship with the actors in a precise and detailed manner. From the classic film kiss, to the portrayal of passionate sex, and to rape, Intimacy Coordinating creates convincing scenes while protecting the actors’ personal boundaries and private sexuality.
The training takes place in cooperation with the Bundesverband Schauspiel e.V. BFFS, which sets high quality standards. It is our concern to prepare the participants as well as possible for their work on set and to equip them with the tools to optimally support the portrayal of intimate scenes.”
“When the private intimacy of the actors is protected, they can fearlessly connect with the intimacy of their character and express it in its fullness and depth”.
Katja Weitzenböck, Intimacy Coordinator
As the Intimacy Coordinator, I get in touch with the creative team (director or 1. AD, camera, actors), if possible before shooting begins in order to clarify the assignment: Which scenes are to be created? What do the participants want to tell and how?
If required, I am happy to support and advise the script and casting process..
A large part of the intimacy coordinator’s work consists of determining, answering and clarifying all questions and concerns BEFORE shooting the scene(s). On the day of the shooting, everyone should know exactly what to expect, what to do, and should be able to prepare for that.
With costume and make-up, I clarify the use of modesty garments (intimate protection) etc.
I prepare the scenes with the actors in a rehearsal – with or without the director, as required. The vision of the director and the ideas of the actors involved are taken into account. The rehearsal should take place in advance if possible, otherwise on the day of shooting.
Similar to a stunt coordinator, we develop in the rehearsal a deliberately technical choreography of simulated, intimate actions not ‘real’ sex. The actors should not have to expose their private intimacy. Positions are developed in which contact of the genitals is always avoided. The desired storytelling is being translated into body movement, touch, shapes, rhythm and sounds. The rehearsal takes place without nudity, kisses are replaced by placeholder gestures.
In rehearsal, I use de-sexualized language and establish boundaries and consent from the actors involved. I protocol the result of the rehearsal work.
On the day of shooting, I look after the actors on set so that the scenes can be shot professionally, safely and without surprises for anyone involved, especially the actors. After the day of shooting, I prepare a final report for the production.
Safe means: Within the choreographed framework, the boundaries and the consent they set, the actors can feel safe to fearlessly develop their acting work with full intensity.
Professionalized means: The technical choreography of simulated, intimate actions developed in rehearsal is a clear distinction from ‘real’ sex. It is repeatable and protects the private intimacy of the actors. The developed positions and movements always avoid contact of genitals. The regulated course of the preparation process gives a structure to everyone involved, supports teamwork on set and enables better outcomes overall.
- • avoids crossing borders and undefined gray areas in the work process, on set or on the theater stage
- • meaningful, cliché-free, authentic, intense and convincing portrayal of intimacy and sex
- • cultivates awareness, clear communication and personal responsibility among the actors
- • saves time on set when shooting intimate scenes
- • relieved, happy actors, directors, and film crews
- • more individual sex scenes and overall better results
- • “Closed Set” Standards: These instructions for the crew will be made available to production for distribution on the day of shooting the intimate scenes.
- • Preparation of ‘Nudity Rider’: This is a possible contract addendum for actors that precisely states what nudity the actor is ready for and in which scene.
- • Protocols of the work process and final protocol
- • Modesty Garments: intimate protection
- • Props: pillows, supports, bathrobes, mouthwash etc.
- • Clear communication
- • Nonviolent communication
- • Trauma-informed conversations through de-sexualized language, etc.
- • Clarification of questions, concerns, security issues
- • special rules when working with minors
- • Establishing boundaries through the ‘Boundary Practice’ exercise according to TIE (Theatrical Intimacy Education)
- • Establishing consent through professional questioning techniques
- • Defining a ‘stop word’
- • Choreography with instructional elements according to TIE (Theatrical Intimacy Education) for movement, touch, form, sounds, breathing
- • „Anchor“ techniques to avoid genital contact
- • Alternative suggestions for movements, positions and for visual storytelling
- • Placeholder gestures instead of kisses in rehearsal
- • Rehearsal always with clothes
Safe Space – This popular term suggests the existence of and the claim to absolute safety. Intimacy Coordination offers and guarantees a working process that creates the greatest possible safety as it opens up a space in which the actors can be sure of the protection of their self-defined boundaries and in which no deliberate surprises take place. This preparation process cultivates self-care, builds trust, and instills a sense of security in everyone on set, especially the actors. However, absolute safety can neither exist nor be guaranteed, since safety is a subjective feeling that everyone interprets differently according to their experiences.
Feeling comfortable – In films or on stage, we often watch people in extreme situations of their lives. The depiction of intimate scenes, kissing, scenes with nudity, sexual actions and sexualized violence are all the more exceptional, challenging situations. It would be as naïve as it would be doomed to fail to promise that those involved would feel as comfortable as they would watching TV at home on the couch. Instead, Intimacy Coordination guarantees that everyone involved, especially the actors, feels as comfortable and as safe as possible through the supported, cared for and protected preparation and rehearsals. The director David Mamet called the desired working mode “easy in the uneasiness”. Stress mode should be avoided at all times.
IC – is the often used abbreviation for Intimacy Coordinator, which is admittedly much more fluent than the unabridged term.
Male gaze and porn – cinematic narration of scenes related to intimacy, nudity, sex and sexualized violence are shaped and dominated by male gaze. Porn sex, implicitly and explicitly, greatly influences the depiction of these scenes.
The IC work process offers the opportunity to become aware of these subconscious influences and, if desired, to bypass them. The result can be an equal, cliché-free portrayal of consensual sex that avoids objectification of women, shows more playful joy and impulse shifts from all partners, and can create a new and different understanding for the audience.
Sex police – Intimacy Coordination is not about morally judging or condemning the simulated, intimate and/or sexual actions that are the content of scene work. Rather, the task of the IC is to ensure that the structured work process with the actors takes place with respect and without violating the previously defined boundaries. It ensures that it is clearly communicated, professionalized, repeatable and effective, with the result of creating intensive and credible scenes.
Intimacy Coach – An Intimacy Coordinator is not a psychologist, does not provide psychological counseling or acute counseling on intimate issues. This falls within the competence of persons trained for this. I will put you in touch with suitable contacts if necessary.
Stunt Coordinator – When scenes depicting sexual violence involve violent physical movement, e.g. falling onto glass or objects, a Stunt Coordinator must also be called in to address and handle safety and technical execution issues. However, an Intimacy Coordinator works like a Stunt Coordinator in intimate scenes.
Directing – An Intimacy Coordinator does not take over the directing position in intimate scenes, rather supports the director in a collaborative partnership to implement his/her visions and storytelling.
- • 2022 – „Sorry I’m late, I was masturbating“, short film – Doity Production, directed by Alena Shevchenko (as IC + actress)
- • 2022 – „Steak – Dinner Time“, short film – MET Film School Berlin, directed by Elizaveta Shebaeva
- • Acting training at FACT (Franco American Cinema Theatre) with Sarah Eigerman and John Strasberg, Paris
- • Dance training with Karin Waehner, Paris
- • Anusara yoga teacher training at ParApara, Berlin
- • Numerous acting workshops with Frank Betzelt, Susan Batson, Jens Roth, Heike Hanold-Lynch, Tantra workshops with Ilka Stoedtner, Berlin
- • Intimacy Coordinator Training at the Culture Change Hub Berlin with Barbara Rohm in collaboration with TIE (Theatrical Intimacy Education)
- • German: mother tongue
- • English: Very good
- • French: Very good
You can find more about my work as an actress and about myself on my website:
My acting agency is Management Goldschmidt, Berlin