O’Brien has published guidelines for on-set intimacy and nudity—rules that, for instance, mandate that directors and actors discuss all intimate scenes before signing contracts, throughout rehearsals, and during performances. They also call for a true closed set while filming those scenes. “The main thing is open communication and transparency with this work,” O’Brien said.
As an intimacy coordinator, her onboarding process involves speaking with all relevant parties on a given set to identify each intimate scene and do risk assessment. If an actor has worked with an intimacy coordinator before, this usually just means checking in with them to learn of any potential concerns; O’Brien walks those who haven’t through her process before asking them what kinds of interactions might make them uncomfortable. By the time everyone arrives on set, O’Brien has spoken with all the parties involved in these scenes, from performers to producers. She’s familiar with each actors’ nudity clause, and what they’re comfortable with. She also makes sure to check with the director about what the scene adds to each characters’ emotional journeys—in other words, why it exists in the first place, and what it’s meant to express.