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Fatal Seduction’s Kgomotso Christopher and intimacy coach Kate Lush on building on-screen chemistry, filming steamy scenes, and more

Today, Netflix announced that volume two of the captivating series Fatal Seduction will launch on the streaming site on 4 August. With seven more episodes to indulge in, we can look forward to even more deception and desire as the dark, intriguing tale comes to a head.

In volume one, we were hooked to our screens through a stellar cast, riveting plot twists, and a plethora of steamy scenes that had us on the edge of our seats.

But while chemistry and intimacy is deeply embedded in the story of Fatal Seduction, the scenes required much preparation from the cast.

They were fortunate to work with intimacy coach Kate Lush who assisted with the physical and emotional challenges of filming, and helped bring the magic to life on screen.

Here, we sit down with Lush, along with the Kgomotso Christopher (Nandi), who share their experiences of on-screen chemistry, sexual expression, and more.

1. What were your initial feelings towards enacting intimate scenes on screen?

When I received the script I can honestly say I was curious as to how the intimate scenes would be shot and handled on set. Once the show producers explained how the scenes would be approached, assured us as actors that we would have a team of professional and trained Intimacy Coaches and that we also had the right to create riders within our contracts to specify what we were comfortable to shoot or not, I really felt comfortable and reassured.

2. How did you overcome any apprehension or nervousness you may have had?

The apprehension as mentioned above was allayed by the allowances and support we had. Further to that, the invaluable work and support we received from our Intimacy Coaches made a huge impact on how we approached the Intimacy Stunts on set. We had pre-production sessions where we discussed how Stunts would be choreographed, we were taught exercises we could use with our co-actors in order to feel safe and comfortable as we shot the scenes. This in turn allowed us to immerse ourselves in telling the story without any awkwardness or discomfort.

3. What were the preparations like for such scenes?

Kgomotso: A few days before what we call a ‘red scene’, our Intimacy Coach, will meet with us individually to discuss the upcoming scene. She will explain how director intends to shoot the scene. She will also by then have had a discussion with the wardrobe department regarding suitable wardrobe on the basis of how scene will be shot and requirement of the stunt, physically. Intimacy coach will also bring a selection of Intimacy Undergarments for us to select for the scene. Once all the admin is out of the way, coach will perhaps share any references that we can look at, ie a film or image. At times Intimacy Coaches themselves would recreate the stunt and record it for us as a reference. On the day of the shoot, we start off with a physical warm up, then we start working on the stunts and choreography, step by step, beat by beat until we’ve perfected the stunt

Kate: About 70% of the work of the work of the Intimacy Coordinator is the preparation. On a show like Fatal Seduction, before we speak to the actors or consider the choreography, we've had extensive meetings with the producers, writers and showrunners (the creative team) about their vision for the series. We try to understand what the show is about, who the audience might be, what is the essence of the intimate story that they're trying to capture. Then we start to have meetings with the actors. We have 121s with each member of the cast where they're free to express their personal comfort levels and boundaries. Only then do we start to work practically with them. On Fatal Seduction we had two coordinators, myself and Natalie Fisher, and together during preproduction we ran workshops with the cast in preparation for filming. We taught the team how to express their personal boundaries with each other, relative to their comfort levels, but also relative to what would be required for the scene that we're working on. We would show them how to position their bodies to avoid genital to genital contact or pressure, how to simulate various sexual positions and acts and introduced them to barriers and modesty wear that would be utilised during the filming. Every actor is different, not just in themselves, but on each filming day; depending on who they're working with, what story they're telling, how they feel in themselves, what other scenes may have already been shot that day, and many other factors. We choreograph the scenes to meet the actors where they're at, relative to the director's vision. When the choreography has been agreed, we make sure it's in alignment with the director's vision, and then cross reference the proposed action with the proposed costume design. Our coordination with the wardrobe team is also a key process, as well as the Director of Photography, the Assistant Directors and the Art Department.

4. What were the most challenging parts about filming intimate scenes? (Kgomotso & Kate)

Kgomotso: We were shooting in mid-winter…some of these stunts mean very little clothes. So you can imagine the challenge! But our Intimacy Coaches were always there with a warm gown and hot water as soon as they ‘Cut”

Kate: We're often trying to shoot complicated scenes in a very short space of time which is the most challenging part about filming intimate scenes. Nudity and scenes with simulated sex, like stunt scenes, often take longer to film. We want to make the actors feel comfortable; so we close the set and remove all members of the crew not required during the rehearsals and filming, we re-check the choreography on the set itself, and collaborate with the DOP as to which angles will work most effectively, and this takes time we often don't have. In addition the actors are trying to remember their blocking, while considering what body parts needs to be where to mask another body parts, while trying also to emotionally connect with each other, their characters and the story.

5. Why do you think these scenes are necessary in the show? What do they lend to the storyline?

Kgomotso: Fatal Seduction is a thriller, a dark tale of desire, secrets and search for the truth. While the scenes are not the main drive of the narrative, they are moments in the journeys of our characters that impact how their lives unfold. Without portraying these moments we wouldn’t be authentically serving the story and narrative, as storytellers our main job is to serve the story and journey of our characters fully.

Kate: The intimate relationships between the characters in Fatal Seduction are a fundamental part of the storytelling. We see characters that are drawn together by an invisable thread, and when that thread is between two people who shouldn't be together, as an audience we feel the tension in the invisible thread as they do. We both want them to stay away from each other, and come together in equal measure. With each sexual encounter we see the push and pull of the wants and desires of the characters, the love, lust, desire, betrayal, manipulation and the guilt.

6. The show is centred on consent and gender-based violence. What do you think Fatal Seduction lends to these causes? (Kgomotso & Kate)

Kgomotso: Fatal Seduction touches on those themes and in so doing highlights the prevalence of GBV in our society and the various forms we are confronted with. The show also speaks on and asks questions relating to justice especially for the victims. Any show that doesn’t shy away from reflecting and being a mirror of society’s ills or good…becmomes a platform for society to reflect and interrogate.

Kate: Fatal Seduction places women's autonomy over their bodies and their sexual desires at the heart of our central characters. We're invited to witness them experiencing sexual pleasure on their terms, and to celebrate their sexual expression without judgement. We see joy and love during their intimate moments but we also see their sadness, we see where damage and loneliness reside, and how sex might be used to try and fill the void. I don't want to give too much of the story away, but more often than not when we see women who are comfortable in their sexuality and pleasure, that in itself becomes the reason for their downfall, Fatal Seduction takes us on a different journey.

7. Is there anything you gained or learned from this experience?

Kgomotso: Every character or role I take on, I take on to stretch me as an actor and also showcase a different side of my performance range. Playing Nandi Mahlati had many challenges, I had to take dance classes for dance sequences, train for all the Intimacy Stunts and find a way to make the Stunts look authentic and ultimately be convincing as a performer. This experience reminded me of the importance of being present as an actor even through telling challenging stories.

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