Ita O’Brien is a British movement director and intimacy co-ordinator for film, TV and theatre. She teaches at some of Britain's acting schools, has published research and devises her own work. In 2017, O'Brien, along with her agents, led a campaign after introducing guidelines, titled the Intimacy On Set Guidelines, to protect performers during scenes that involve sex or nudity..
|Years active||2006 – present|
|Known for||Intimacy on Set|
Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams
The Girl with All the Gifts
Early life and education
O'Brien's family is from Clonmel, Ireland. She graduated in 1998 from the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. She also trained as a dancer at the Royal Academy of Dancing. In 2007, she received a master of arts in movement studies from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
O'Brien has been developing best practice when working with intimacy, scenes with sexual content and nudity in film, TV and theatre since 2014. In the absence of any industry-wide guidelines or accepted process, she developed draft guidelines for intimacy, simulated sex scenes and nudity.
There was brief controversy when, on the BAFTA red carpet in 2018, Andy Serkis likened the idea of guidelines to censorship. However, O'Brien says, "These guidelines are not a constraint, but an improvement on current practice. They free the actor to embody the character whilst delivering repeatable and safe scenes that facilitate the Director’s vision."
Her work has received widespread press coverage, particularly for Netflix on Sex Education and Gentleman Jack for the BBC. She has also worked an Intimacy coordinator for Amazon, the BBC, and HBO She has been an advocate for the use of an Intimacy coordinator, introducing their use in Australia. New Zealand, Germany, and Ireland, as well as the UK.
Film and TV credits
Movement credits include Sex Education (2019), Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams (2017), Derren Brown's Ghost Train (2017,) series 2 of Humans (2016), The Girl With All The Gifts (2016) and many theatre productions.
- Chrisey Iley (14 January 2018). "The new rules of sex: how Hollywood is rethinking on-screen intimacy in the post-Weinstein era". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
- Emine Saner (21 November 2017). "Would 'intimacy directors' make shooting sex scenes safer?". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
- O'Brien, Ita. "Best practice when working with intimacy, simulated sex scenes, and nudity", Retrieved 10 May 2018.
- Knox, Kirsty Blake (20 April 2018). "Meet Ita O'Brien - the world's leading sex scene director". Independent.ie. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
- ""The Diana Kite Award" at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. DianaKiteAward". www.winterbourne.freeuk.com.
- "Ita O'Brien, MA - The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama". www.cssd.ac.uk.
- Laurence Cook (25 January 2018). "After Weinstein, a New Way to Approach On-Set Sex Scenes". Backstage. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
- O'Brien, Ita. "Best practice when working with intimacy, simulated sex scenes, and nudity", Retrieved 6 March 2018.
- "Sex scene rules would be 'censorship' star says". BBC News. 19 February 2018. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
- "Draft Guidelines Published for Sex Scenes On Set". WFTV. 5 February 2018. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
- @ItaOB (5 March 2018). "So fantastic to have #gemmaarterton on board, joining #OliviaColeman and @DavidFarrUK in support of the #SSOSguidelines!! Xxx" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Women and Hollywood. "Ita O’Brien Is Transforming the Way Film, TV, and Theater Handle Sex Scenes", Retrieved 7 Mar 2019.
- Berning Sawa, Dale. "'Take care of your actors': the intimacy director keeping Netflix’s sex scenes safe", Retrieved 25 Jan 2019.
- Gordon, Naomi. "How Suranne Jones prepared for her lesbian sex scenes in Gentleman Jack", Retrieved 1 May 2019.
- O'Brien, Ita. "Ita O'Brien Biography - Intimacy on Set", Retrieved 6 March 2019.
- Groves, Don. "Call to introduce guidelines for intimacy on sets in Australia", Retrieved 6 March 2019.
- Standing Room Only. "Guidelines on getting intimate on stage and screen - Ita O'Brien", Retrieved 6 March 2019.
- Zwirner, Heiko. "Bei Sexszenen sind die Verletzungen oft nicht sichtbar", Retrieved 1 May 2019.
- Radio Times. "What is an intimacy coordinator? Meet the woman who protects actors doing sex scenes in the #MeToo era", Retrieved 6 March 2019.