Film fixer is your local organizer who help you to arrange things and make things happen.
Theoretically speaking, film officer also can play the role of film fixer. He also can speak both English and Vietnamese and also can arrange things. But practically, the person who come with the role of manage and observe the filming team isn’t suitable with the role of serving the filming team at the same time. You could easily tell film fixer to run errands for you, but you couldn’t really tell the film officer to do that.
So, what’re roles of film fixer?
+ Supporting with registration of film permit and drone permit (if any). Normally when you work with fixer, you need to work with fixer only, and fixer would work with FPC.
+ Preparation for filming scene:
– scouting locations: rural-looking place, busy motorbike driving street, identify current address from old address, …
– speaking with people in advance to prepare for filming. For example, if you want to film at a restaurant, you need to speak with the restaurant in advance to ask their permission to film and setting up scene, so they can prepare in advance. Sometime it would involve extra payment if needed.
Transportation is normally car, but sometime also boat (for example, if you want to film a boat tour on Ha Long bay). For filming crew, as having a lot of equipment, you would like to have a car with open space at the back (have the chairs folded or removed), so you can take or put in your equipment easily. Some filming crews are big (like 20 people or more) and you would like to have a truck to carry all luggage and equipment, rather than put them in a van. However, due to traffic law in Vietnam, all of these are usually not possible. (Ask me for further explanation).
Film fixer will also try to arrange driver(s) with experiences working with filming crews, since working with filming crew is different with working with tourist groups, however, we can’t promise anything. Film fixer usually doesn’t own cars nor drivers for filming. We would sign contract with car service company to provide car(s) with driver(s), and they arrange for us drivers who are available.
Drivers are usually experienced working with tourist groups more than filming crews. With tourist groups, there is usually fixed schedule for pick up and drop off. With filming crew, it’s not like that, filming time can be estimated, but doesn’t really happen exactly as schedule.
A driver with experience working with filming crew would be much easier to work with. Sometime car would be an object for filming, or filming would happen inside the car or through car window, and driver need to adjust with that. For example, when we filmed langurs, we told the driver to drive slowly and silent in the forest. When we detect langurs, we told the driver to stop and turned off the engine, everyone kept silent and only the cameraman and camera assistant approach closer to the langurs to film.
+ Translation for interview. Help to arrange filming scenes, communicating with all related people.
+ Help to rent extra equipment which filming crew didn’t bring with them. Help to hire extra people if needed (sound man, person who help to carry things
+ Asking for signature for release forms.
+ Give food recommendations: filming crew doesn’t always have time to research about food, so fixer usually need to give food recommendation based on preferences and budget of the filming crew. These usually aren’t stated, but fixer need to ask or observe or use experiences to recommend. Some filming crews have people prefer different things: a person doesn’t eat pork, another doesn’t eat beef, another doesn’t eat spicy, … some filming crews prefer open space over closed space. Though filming crew comes to film and not to eat, giving filming crew good experiences is one part of work of fixer.
+ Researching information online. Giving information about weather, traffic, …
+ Help to make small payments. Due to credit card and foreign currencies aren’t widely accepted everywhere, filming crew from abroad may not have VND or small changes all the time, fixer can help to make small payments and filming crew will reimburse afterward. Sometime fixer also help to gather bills and put into excel file.
+ All around no name tasks: help to buy USB, batteries, things …
+ When filming crew need to split into 2 teams, normally film officer would go with the team which have more chance to meet local authorities (such as shooting beauty shots/city shots), while fixer goes with the team which need more speaking and arrangements.
+ Adapt with changes: the work of the fixer would be easier if everything stays as planned but most of the time, it doesn’t. Changes can happen because of many reasons:
– Things don’t happen as planned: flight delayed, queue up at the airport take much longer than expected, weather change, member(s) of filming crew got sick and couldn’t work …
– Director/creative team change their mind.
Last minute plans and ideas are always hard to deal with and arrange, but anyway, a fixer always need to be aware of those and make the best out of the circumstance.
+ When your team arrives at the airport, normally film fixer & officer will come to meet and pick up you of course. But please note that Noi Bai airport is no longer allow people with signboard to stand in door of arrival hall, must stand outdoor. So I usually write name of the filming crew on a half of A4 paper (A5) and try to stand indoor.
+ Sim card with 3G: must buy at airport to avoid registration (wasting time).
+ Exchanging money at airport is also recommended for rate and convenience.
+ Airport is usually not allowed to film when it’s closer to National Holiday when airport is crowded and reach to highest security level. (You can stay in the car and film via the window, though). When it’s allowed to film, you still need to pay for a film permit fee at the airport, despise you already have and paid for regular film permit.
+ Cash withdrawal is limited to 2 million VND/time, with withdrawal fee is 50,000 VND/time.
+ Weather is unpredictable, and forecast isn’t usually precise, so if you have option 2 in case it rains, please include in the filming schedule.
Anyway, filming is intensive. What audiences watch for an hour may take one week to film. However, filming is still a joyful and interesting experience. It tells stories.