At any given time in New Mexico, as many as two-thirds of our 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™ Initiative" which she started with the guidance and support 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 Actress, Activist, Foley Artist and Documentary Filmmaker who was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico and raised in Corrales and Albuquerque. Growing up in a bohemian arts family, she trained in classical music, theater and dance from an early age. In the diligent pursuit of creative expression, she moved to NYC in the 1980s and studied everything from modern dance to performance art to documentary filmmaking.
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 a remote Anasazi Ruin in Northern New Mexico. Returning from NYC in 1989, she'd trained as a film actress and secured a rare speaking part in a sci-fi thriller with name Hollywood actors. At first she was excited as it meant she could get her SAG Card and finally be able to move to Los Angeles to pursue a serious film and television career.
After extreme pressure to do a nude scene that wasn’t in the script, she tried to negotiate with the director. As it became clear that he intended to force her to comply, she tried to leave the set. 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 with a 200' foot cliff drop, (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puye_Cliff_Dwellings) and though she managed to get home intact, was harassed, intimidated, and ultimately blacklisted by the film industry and had to leave New Mexico.
After many years living in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, Lara eventually returned to New Mexico in 2006 and became a part of the burgeoning film industry renaissance. While exploring many different aspects of local independent film, she apprenticed with an Emmy Award winning Foley Artist until 2013 when she founded her own post production sound facility - FootVox Studio:
We believe New Mexico's actors and film crews deserve safe, empowered environments where they can safely define their on-screen roles, their off-screen futures and change the world.
Our Safe Sets™ Plan
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 was to be 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.
Unfortunately COVID-19 lock down hit the weekend before Lara was to board the flight, so she is now looking for funding to train here in New Mexico with the widely recognized Amanda Blumenthal of Intimacy Professionals Association (IPA) in Los Angeles.
Staged sex: What an "Intimacy Coordinator" does
Our Safe Sets™ Vision
The longer-term plan for the "Safe Sets™ Initiative" is to train more local Intimacy Coordinators and to partner with the NM Film Office in the adoption of standardized Intimacy Protocols that will become the standard for United States production practices, particularly for states with extensive remote location shooting.
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, both on set and in remote locations.
Updated and enforced guidelines are needed in every state and every industry and our plan is to create an effective working model that can address sexual harassment issues comprehensively and effectively.