THE owner of a Cork acting school has found his niche as an intimacy coach offering guidance on how to responsibly coordinate love scenes both on stage and on screen.
Darren Kelleher, who owns Actors Vision in Cork city, has joined forces with Four Faced Theatre Company in Cork to offer specialised intimacy workshops for those in the industry.
The course will outline the finer details of coordinating love scenes in the context of stage or screen projects. Having fast become an obligation for film and TV studios in the US, intimacy coaching is making its way across the board.
Intimacy coaches are now on hand to ensure there is peace of mind around whether sex or nude scenes are shot in an ethical manner to protect the comfort and safety of others.
As an actor and filmmaker who has performed and directed nude scenes, Darren has first-hand knowledge of the importance of respect on set. He explained how intimacy coaches can benefit a production.
“If you’re doing stunts on set there is a stunt coordinator. They block the stunts and everyone knows what they are doing. Intimacy shouldn’t be any different.”
Mr Kelleher described how far intimacy coaching has come in recent years.
“In the past, you might turn up to a set with directions on the script that are as simple as ‘they make love’. Intimacy coaching removes the vagueness and provides a framework for breaking down intimate scenes piece by piece. This means the actor knows the exact actions. It can be as simple as the actor letting their co-star know in advance that they are going to put their hands on their shoulders and making sure they’re okay with this. This builds up the emotional journey block by block. Choreographing the scene removes the uncertainty and fear.”
According to Darren, the Irish theatre and film industry have a long way to go before intimacy coaching becomes obligatory.
“Intimacy is not a requirement that’s being adopted yet. While it’s catching on there is a long way to go before it becomes a necessity by law or company policies.”
Intimacy coaching isn’t always about love scenes. Darren explains: “Intimacy isn’t always about sex and nudity. That’s why coaching also covers scenes where people are entering one another’s personal space. This can happen when the actor is playing a mother who has to hug their son in a scene. It’s important to ensure that the child is okay with the scene and feels comfortable in that moment. Red flags should be raised if there is a lack of clarity around what is happening. It’s vital that everyone knows what the boundaries are.”
He described the importance of mental health in the context of intimate scenes.
“I had someone who came to me for advice after they had been asked to pose topless in a music video. She was in a vulnerable place in her life which would have been clear to anyone who was speaking to her. The shot wasn’t relevant to the story and I advised her that this was by no means a good idea. When there is nudity involved you have to make sure that the person knows exactly what they are getting into and is able to make balanced decisions.”
Darren will host an intimacy workshop in conjunction with the Four Faced Theatre Company on Saturday, May, 14 from 2.30pm to 5.30pm at Actors Vision in Patrick’s Quay. Tickets are €35 with a special price of €25 for students.