At any given time in New Mexico, as many as two-thirds of the local productions are non-union and filmed on remote locations with no cellphone access. Because of this and the current IATSE scandal involving their union leader allegedly demanding sex in return for union membership, Lara Dale founded the "Safe Sets TM Initiative" which she started with the support and partnership of Claire Harwell, Legal Director for the NM Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs.
"I have made it a priority to create meaningful and lasting reforms that will protect all New Mexican film talent and crew, regardless of union status or location, from sexual harassment in the workplace. To that end, we would like to offer this letter of support for the efforts Lara is making to ensure safe sets in New Mexico.”
—Alicia Keyes, Cabinet Secretary,
New Mexico Economic Development
FOUNDER LARA DALE
Lara Dale is an Activist, Foley Artist and Documentary Filmmaker who was born in Santa Fe and grew up in Corrales and Albuquerque. Raised in a bohemian arts family, she trained in classical music, theater and dance from an early age. In the diligent pursuit of dance and creative expression, she moved to NYC in the 1980s and studied everything from modern dance to stage acting to performance art and documentary film.
Lara in conversation with Director Sydney Freeland
about Drunktown's Finest
Lara is also a survivor of severe Hollywood sexual harassment that took place on the Puye Cliffs, a remote Anasazi Ruin in Northern New Mexico. She had returned to New Mexico in 1989 to train as a film actress and had secured a rare speaking part in a Hollywood Sci-Fi thriller with name actors. At first she was very excited as it meant she would finally be able to get her SAG Card and move to Los Angeles to pursue a serious film career.
After unending pressure to do a nude scene that wasn’t in the script, she decided to negotiate on set, which resulted in a nightmare scenario. After complaining to the director and getting nowhere, she ended up being chased around the mesa by the entire tech crew, who then barricaded the exit. She barely managed to escape down a narrow dirt road 200 feet off the ground at great risk to her safety, and though she managed to get home intact, was verbally harassed, ultimately blacklisted by the local film industry and forced to leave the state.
After a trip to Europe to perform in an Avant Garde play at the Viennese Opera House, plus many years living and working in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, Lara eventually returned to New Mexico in 2006 and learned through the Albuquerque Film Office about the burgeoning film industry renaissance. Working in many different aspects of local independent film, she became interested in Post Production and became a Foley Artist, apprenticing with Academy Award winning professional Ellen Heuer of ET and Dirty Dancing fame.
We believe New Mexico's actors and film crews deserve safe, empowered environments where they can help define their on-screen roles, their off-screen futures and change the world.
A major gap in current production processes is the shortage of properly trained "Intimacy Coordinators" who provide a level of trust, experience and skills that guarantee intimate scenes that are truly safe and consensual. They ensure clear guidelines and protocols for the protection of the talent, the crew, the director and the production company.
The U.S. has only a small number of trained Intimacy Coordinators and they operate under generalized policies that are often difficult to enforce.
Initial funding will be used for travel and training for Lara Dale to work with one of the most respected pioneers of theatre and film Intimacy Training, Ita O'Brien, in London. Her IC workshop intensives provide the most comprehensive and effective training available. See Ita's website and here, see how on-set intimacy protocols are used in the film industry.
Staged sex: What an "Intimacy Coordinator" does
The longer-term plan for the "Safe Sets TM Initiative" is to train more Intimacy Coordinators and engage the NM Film Office in adoption of Intimacy Protocols that will become standard state-wide production practice.
Community College of New Mexico (CNM) has voiced interest in creating ongoing curriculum within our local educational system to implement these policies throughout traditional mainstream workplaces.
Because New Mexico is a small population state and all of our professional offices and unions are on board with the Safe Sets vision, it's possible for New Mexico to become the leader for other states and areas who want first-rate protection and safe industry practices for their film industries.
Updated and enforced guidelines are needed in every state and every industry and our plan is to create an effective working model.