Ita O'Brien

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.[1].[2]

Ita O'Brien
Occupationmovement director
intimacy coordinator
Years active2006 – present
Known forIntimacy on Set
Sex Education
Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams
The Girl with All the Gifts

Early life and education

O'Brien's family is from Clonmel, Ireland.[3] She graduated in 1998 from the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.[4] She also trained as a dancer at the Royal Academy of Dancing.[5] In 2007, she received a master of arts in movement studies from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.[5]


O'Brien has been developing best practice when working with intimacy, scenes with sexual content and nudity in film, TV and theatre since 2014.[6] In the absence of any industry-wide guidelines or accepted process, she developed draft guidelines for intimacy, simulated sex scenes and nudity.[7]

There was brief controversy when, on the BAFTA red carpet in 2018, Andy Serkis likened the idea of guidelines to censorship.[8] 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."[9]

The guidelines have received the support of Women in Film and Television (UK)[9] and leading industry figures, including Gemma Arterton, Noma Dumezweni, Olivia Colman, Joseph Millson and David Farr.[10]

Her work has received widespread press coverage,[11] particularly for Netflix on Sex Education[12] and Gentleman Jack for the BBC[13]. She has also worked an Intimacy coordinator for Amazon, the BBC, and HBO[14] She has been an advocate for the use of an Intimacy coordinator, introducing their use in Australia.[15] New Zealand,[16] Germany[17], and Ireland,[3] as well as the UK.[18]

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.


  1. 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.
  2. O'Brien, Ita. "Best practice when working with intimacy, simulated sex scenes, and nudity", Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  3. Knox, Kirsty Blake (20 April 2018). "Meet Ita O'Brien - the world's leading sex scene director". Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  4. ""The Diana Kite Award" at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. DianaKiteAward".
  5. "Ita O'Brien, MA - The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama".
  6. Laurence Cook (25 January 2018). "After Weinstein, a New Way to Approach On-Set Sex Scenes". Backstage. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  7. O'Brien, Ita. "Best practice when working with intimacy, simulated sex scenes, and nudity", Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  8. "Sex scene rules would be 'censorship' star says". BBC News. 19 February 2018. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  9. "Draft Guidelines Published for Sex Scenes On Set". WFTV. 5 February 2018. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  10. @ItaOB (5 March 2018). "So fantastic to have #gemmaarterton on board, joining #OliviaColeman and @DavidFarrUK in support of the #SSOSguidelines!! Xxx" (Tweet) via Twitter.
  11. Women and Hollywood. "Ita O’Brien Is Transforming the Way Film, TV, and Theater Handle Sex Scenes", Retrieved 7 Mar 2019.
  12. Berning Sawa, Dale. "'Take care of your actors': the intimacy director keeping Netflix’s sex scenes safe", Retrieved 25 Jan 2019.
  13. Gordon, Naomi. "How Suranne Jones prepared for her lesbian sex scenes in Gentleman Jack", Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  14. O'Brien, Ita. "Ita O'Brien Biography - Intimacy on Set", Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  15. Groves, Don. "Call to introduce guidelines for intimacy on sets in Australia", Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  16. Standing Room Only. "Guidelines on getting intimate on stage and screen - Ita O'Brien", Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  17. Zwirner, Heiko. "Bei Sexszenen sind die Verletzungen oft nicht sichtbar", Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  18. Radio Times. "What is an intimacy coordinator? Meet the woman who protects actors doing sex scenes in the #MeToo era", Retrieved 6 March 2019.
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