Videographer with fixer.

The modern day fixer is familiar with local culture and knows how to get all of the logistical ducks in a row to make your production run smoothly. A bad fixer will move the production at a sluggish pace and create more problems than they fix.

Choosing your Fixer

Always make sure to pace your responsibilities and feel out the fixer via correspondence before you are on the ground and in full swing of production. Starting your correspondence months ahead of time will allow you to make sure you are dealing with a local fixer that is capable of fulfilling the scope of your production. The fixer should speak the local language(s) and be comfortable navigating the cultural landscape and trained in all aspects of production management as well as security and transportation of the production.

When choosing a fixer make sure you are protected against cyber theft. Any time you contact and work with foreign countries always expect the best but plan for the worst. Making sure that you have a secure internet connection and that you have all of your personal information and respective financial information stored on a separate and personal device. Mixing your work computer with your personal is a big mistake and puts you at risk especially while working overseas. Spending the extra money to get a allocated machine for the project is the safest way to protect yourself.

Local Regulations

Working with the country's film commission is key to avoiding major pitfalls that can cause a production to fail and fall into extreme overages. The local fixer should have credits and references with the local film and television agency's. These accredited fixers can easily sort out filming permits for special locations like airports, zoos, and other heavily populated areas or tourist attractions.  A good international fixer should be able to location scout and send detailed information, including photos and film clips, back to the producer.

Working with the country's film commission is key to avoiding major pitfalls that can cause a production to fail and fall into extreme overages.

Also, finding fixers that specialize in your specific needs like documentary film making or commercial work is important as each type of production has different needs. Some fixers work exclusively in one field, so make sure to get the fixer that is right for your production.

Some countries require a special visa and or permit to film there. The fixer you choose should be familiar with these requirements and sort them out for you easily. If any problems arise the fixer should be able to diffuse it and keep the production running smoothly.

Local Resources

Fixers should be able to get you great recommendations and access to talent crew and facilities that can assist in your production. Always trust your instincts and make sure you are making the best decision for your production with your fixers guidance. The task of searching out the 100 different departments locally can be daunting, so having a fixer that is trustworthy and has the production’s best interest at heart is a key consideration when working with a fixer.

They should be able to provide great recommendations of safe and comfortable places for crew to stay during production and be the go between  of the local vendors and the production, saving you money and time.

Handling the transportation of the crew is important. The fixer should address all issues including the safety of the crew and the efficiency of the time spent in transport. The fixer should handle all cultural communications and any problems if they arise. In many countries a camera has the value of two years of work.  Keeping your crew and gear safe is an important attribute of a accomplished fixer.

Managing your Fixer

Making checklists and easy to follow lists of expectations will keep clear communication between the production and the fixer while making sure not to overwhelm the fixer with tasks. The fixer can only do so much and making sure they are not setup to fail due to a lack of producing experience or financial resources is key. 

Finding a fixers that can be your ambassadors of their city will vary in cost from country to country that you visit, but the assistance they provide can be invaluable. Today's fixer will take the worry out of the language barrier and use their specialist local and cultural knowledge to deal quickly and efficiently with politics and paperwork.

When not filming or creating motion pictures, John focuses on his other passions: painting, drawing and robot building.

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Susan is the Art Director at Videomaker and YouTuber Magazines.

1 COMMENT

  1. The opening line in the story above “A fixer acts as personal advisor to make sure you can get the shots you need in unfamiliar territory….” is very helpful as an introductory statement. Unfortunately, this opening line is missing from the magazine article, which left me wondering from the start, “What is a FIXER??”. I’ve been in the video business for 25 years and had never heard this term used before (outside of a photographer’s darkroom).

    As I read the story my unanswered question was, “How do you locate a fixer in a foreign country?” The article describes how to choose a fixer, working with a fixer, benefits of using a fixer, but never tells us how to locate and hire one. This would seem to be Step One. Without knowing how to obtain a fixer, knowing how to work with one is really a moot point.