Filming a movie or a TV show can be an exciting and daunting experience at the same time. There are numerous challenges that filmmakers may face, ranging from location scouting and permits to talent casting and equipment rentals.
In this context, a film fixer can play a crucial role in ensuring a smooth and successful production. But what is a film fixer, exactly? In this article, we will explore the definition, skills, and duties of a film fixer, as well as some tips on how to become one.
What is a Film Fixer?
A film fixer is a professional who assists in the planning, coordination, and execution of film and TV productions, usually on location. The primary goal of a film fixer is to make the shooting process as seamless as possible, by resolving any logistical, administrative, or creative issues that may arise during the project.
Depending on the size and scope of the production, a film fixer can work independently or as part of a larger team, alongside producers, directors, location managers, and other crew members.
The Skills of a Film Fixer
To be an effective film fixer, one needs to possess a range of skills that go beyond technical expertise in film production. Some of the most important skills of a film fixer include:
- Communication: A film fixer must be an excellent communicator, able to convey complex information to different stakeholders, such as production companies, local authorities, talent agencies, and suppliers. They must also be adept at negotiating and problem-solving, as they often have to resolve conflicts or find compromises between different parties.
- Organizational: A film fixer must be highly organized, capable of managing multiple tasks and deadlines simultaneously. They must keep track of budgets, contracts, schedules, and permits, among other things.
- Cultural awareness: A film fixer must have a deep understanding of the local culture, customs, and regulations of the location where the production takes place. They must be respectful of local traditions and sensitive to cultural differences, as well as able to adapt to unexpected changes or challenges.
- Resourcefulness: A film fixer must be resourceful, able to find creative solutions to problems that may arise during the production. They must have a good network of contacts and suppliers, as well as the ability to think outside the box and improvise when necessary.
The Duties of a Film Fixer
The role of a film fixer can vary depending on the project and the location. However, some of the most common duties of a film fixer include:
One of the first tasks of a film fixer is to scout locations that match the creative vision of the project. This can involve traveling to different places, taking photos and videos, and liaising with location owners or managers.
A film fixer must have a good eye for detail and be able to assess the feasibility of a location in terms of lighting, acoustics, accessibility, and safety.
Once the locations are selected, a film fixer must obtain the necessary permits and permissions to film in those places. This can involve dealing with local authorities, such as city councils, parks and recreation departments, or national heritage organizations.
A film fixer must be familiar with the legal and regulatory frameworks of the location, as well as the paperwork and fees required for each permit.
A film fixer may also assist in the casting process, by identifying and contacting local talent agencies or individual actors who fit the roles needed for the production.
They must have a good understanding of the script and the director’s vision, as well as the availability, fees, and contracts of the talent. A film fixer must also ensure that the actors have the necessary work permits and visas if they are coming from abroad.
Another aspect of pre-production that a film fixer can help with is the equipment rental. This can include cameras, lighting, sound, grip, and other technical gear needed for the production.
A film fixer must have a good network of suppliers and be able to negotiate favorable rates and terms for the equipment. They must also coordinate the logistics of transportation, storage, and maintenance of the equipment during the production.
During the production itself, a film fixer can play a crucial role in solving any problems that may arise. This can include dealing with weather conditions, equipment malfunctions, or unexpected changes in the script or schedule.
A film fixer must be able to think on their feet, stay calm under pressure, and communicate effectively with the crew and talent.
Liaising with local authorities and communities
A film fixer must also maintain good relationships with the local authorities and communities where the production takes place.
This can involve coordinating traffic control, crowd management, and security measures, as well as addressing any concerns or complaints from the local residents. A film fixer must be diplomatic, respectful, and proactive in managing the relationships with the stakeholders.
Another important duty of a film fixer during production is to manage the logistics of the shoot. This can include arranging transportation, accommodation, and meals for the crew and talent, as well as overseeing the set design, props, and costumes.
A film fixer must ensure that everything runs smoothly and according to the plan, while also being flexible enough to accommodate changes or contingencies.
Wrapping up the project
Once the filming is completed, a film fixer must oversee the wrapping up of the project. This can involve coordinating the dismantling of the set, returning the equipment rentals, and clearing the locations.
A film fixer must ensure that everything is done according to the permits and regulations, and that there is no damage or litter left behind.
Billing and budgeting
A film fixer may also be responsible for billing and budgeting the project. This can involve tracking expenses, preparing invoices and receipts, and negotiating payments with the production company.
A film fixer must have a good understanding of the financial aspects of the project, as well as the legal and tax implications of the payments.
How to Become a Film Fixer
If you are interested in becoming a film fixer, there are several steps you can take to get started. Some of the most important ones include:
- Gain experience in film production: To become a film fixer, you need to have a good understanding of the filmmaking process, from pre-production to post-production. You can start by working as a production assistant, location scout, or any other entry-level position in the film industry.
- Build a network of contacts: A film fixer relies heavily on their network of contacts and suppliers. You can start building your network by attending film festivals, industry events, and social gatherings where you can meet other filmmakers, location managers, and talent agents.
- Learn about local regulations: A film fixer needs to be familiar with the legal and regulatory frameworks of the locations where they operate. You can research the requirements for obtaining permits, licenses, and visas for filming in different countries or regions.
- Develop your problem-solving and communication skills: A film fixer needs to be able to solve problems quickly and effectively, and to communicate clearly with a wide range of stakeholders, from crew members to local authorities. You can improve your problem-solving and communication skills by taking courses, attending workshops, or practicing through role-playing exercises.
- Be prepared to work long hours and travel frequently: A film fixer may have to work long hours, often outside of the regular 9-to-5 schedule. They may also need to travel frequently, sometimes to remote or challenging locations. You should be prepared to adapt to this lifestyle and to handle the physical and emotional demands of the job.
In summary, a film fixer is a crucial member of the film production team, responsible for coordinating and solving logistical, regulatory, and creative challenges.
A film fixer needs to have a diverse set of skills, from location scouting to equipment rental, from talent coordination to problem-solving, and from budgeting to billing.
If you are interested in becoming a film fixer, you can start by gaining experience in film production, building a network of contacts, learning about local regulations, and developing your problem-solving and communication skills.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a film fixer the same as a location manager?
A film fixer can be seen as a type of location manager, but their role is broader and more complex. A film fixer is responsible for all aspects of the production, from pre-production to post-production, while a location manager focuses mainly on finding and securing the right locations for filming.
How much does a film fixer typically earn?
The earnings of a film fixer can vary widely, depending on factors such as the size and complexity of the project, the location, and the level of experience and reputation of the fixer. Some film fixers may charge a flat fee, while others may negotiate a percentage of the overall budget.
What are some challenges that film fixers face?
Film fixers can face a range of challenges, from navigating complex regulations to dealing with unexpected changes in the script or schedule. They may also have to manage difficult personalities, such as demanding directors or diva actors, and to work in challenging environments, such as extreme weather or remote locations.
What are some qualities of a good film fixer?
A good film fixer needs to have excellent organizational, communication, and problem-solving skills, as well as a strong attention to detail and a flexible, adaptable mindset. They should also be diplomatic, patient, and able to work well under pressure.
Can a film fixer work on international projects?
Yes, a film fixer can work on international projects, but they need to have a good understanding of the regulations, culture, and logistics of the locations where they operate. They may also need to have language skills and cultural sensitivity, especially when dealing with local authorities and communities.