After working on her own project exploring the dynamic of sexual abuse, titled Does my sex offend you?, O’Brien realised that something had to change.
“I started my project in 2015 and was looking at how do we keep actors safe and what practices needed to be put in place,” she reveals. “When the Weinstein thing happened [as a number of women came forward to highlight instances of harassment at the hands of movie producer Harvey Weinstein], I was ready to say to directors, ‘Here are the guidelines. This will give you a professional structure in order to do intimate content in a professional way.’”
With directors and producers keen on fostering a safer workspace, O’Brien soon found herself hired as an on-set intimacy co-ordinator. After “choreographing” the sex scenes on Gentleman Jack, Watchmen and Netflix’s Sex Education, O’Brien recently worked on Normal People, the TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel, along with director Lenny Abrahamson.
“I can’t imagine doing things like that without Ita,” its star, Daisy Edgar-Jones recently said. “There was a sense with Ita in charge of the physical stuff, that all we had to worry about were the story beats, and doing the writing justice. Then, it becomes like a job. You’re such good friends with the crew that you do a scene like that, then you break for lunch. It’s a bit odd.”
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