When you a have film project that requires you to go on location for specific or all scenes, you will need the help of people on the ground to ensure that everything goes seamlessly when the schedule begins.
A production fixer takes care of everything related to the project, including venue, people, permits, equipment, accommodations, and more, on a local level. His or her role is key to the success of the activity, especially if everybody else on the team is based abroad.
This role is often underestimated and under-appreciated by award-giving bodies, but the film crew knows that without this person, none of the location shoots would ever happen. The term “fixer” sounds like being a jack-of-all-trades, which is, in essence, what the job is all about. Here’s what a production fixer can take care of when you’re preparing to film in a particular area:
Filming in any location almost always requires a permit, whether you are in a foreign country or not. This role is responsible not just for acquiring permission to use a specific area, but also all other related permits to bring equipment and staff in. This includes liaising with the local authorities and the police for help with crowd control, location management, immigration staff for special visas, and more.
If you need to employ local actors at your destination, the fixer can take care of hiring them as well. They will be responsible for connecting casting agents on the ground, as well as behind-the-scenes staff, such as sound engineers, camera operators, gaffers, and the like. In addition, they will also be taking care of manpower for crowd control, such as private security or bouncers, as well as catering providers, errand staff, and other things for the project to succeed.
Location shooting means you can’t really bring all of your heavy and fancy equipment with you because it will be expensive to transport them. Part of this job is to source providers of specific machines for rent for a certain period. However, while it is the fixer’s duty to determine where equipment may be outsourced, it is still the producer’s responsibility to determine and decide whether these are to be used or not.
Transportation and Accommodations
Where would the staff and artists sleep? How would they get to the venue? How will they get home? These are just some of the important questions that a fixer should ask unless these have already been pre-booked and taken care of. Because he or she will be the main point of contact on the ground and will likely have contacts that can offer discounts and special pricing, these tasks are often delegated to this person.
Overall, a fixer is someone who ensures that everything is ready before the entire film crew arrives to start working. Part of the job is to ensure that all activities stay within the pre-set budget, as well as provide recommendations on the most cost-effective means to carry out certain tasks.
In short, he or she must have good operations management skills. Without this person, teams looking to do destination shoots can encounter a lot of budget, creative, logistics, and even legal problems along the way — if they even get to start.