vietnam fixer production

Vietnam fixer production

For pre-production, please read here.

At this stage, we already have major things on places, crew is arriving at airport and Vietnam fixer either comes to pick up them or not depend on if they need help or not. This need to be identified before crew arriving:

– If crew is small, doesn’t have a lot of luggage/equipment, and confident that they can take a taxi to the hotel by themselves, then fixer doesn’t need to pick up. But fixer should be available on Whatsapp for crew to contact if they need help.

– If crew is big with lots of equipment, which a taxi isn’t enough, then fixer should help them to arrange a van or even few vans to pick up.

Then fixer would also help/instruct crew to buy sim card, exchange money if needed.

Afterwards, it would depend on each crew, some arrive to airport and rest first, and would film in the next day, some go for scouting, some would go for filming right after arrival (specially if their flight is short)

From then onwards,

Vietnam fixer’s role and works

are various, but could be summarize in these points:

+ Keeping people and things work on schedule:

– that mean keeping driver(s) informed of what time he need to pick up crew in the morning, how long would he need to wait at certain places

– keeping interviewee informed about what time to start

– keeping place owners (where crew films) be informed about when crew would be there

and if there would be any change

– keeping crew knows if there is any change needed.

+ Answering film crew:

For various and random questions: from relating to not relate to the filming trip, from culture to social questions, or someone in the crew’s personal matter which need to be fixed soon.

+ Entertaining and caring about people:

It could be film crew, but many times it also could be local people like interviewee or local authority. As sometime local people have to wait for film crew for so long, to set up the camera or select a good scene, or sometimes instead of film the interviewee, cameraman just suddenly run elsewhere to film something else first, because that activity may not happen again. Then fixer need to explain and keep interviewee entertained, to let him/her know that film crew doesn’t mean anything rude.

It could be offer interviewee bottled water or any drink (juice, coffee) if available, and talk to get to know interviewee better.

+ Interpreting

interpreting here isn’t only the language, but also include explain the culture or practices. Vietnam fixers would need to translate creatively, instead of literately: to bring the questions and requests of crew to local people in the most accurate but also respect way.

Example 1: cameraman tells fixer: “Now he (the interviewee) can go from point A to point B and look around but don’t look at the camera”, so cameraman can record the interviewee with the scene of the place. But it doesn’t sound very polite to translate literately, so Vietnam fixer would say to interviewee: “Can you please go from point A to point B, but please look around, don’t look at the camera so we can film you with the scene?” or “Please do us a favor of …”. It’s always nicer to ask interviewee in the way of asking for favor.

Example 2: producer asks fixer to ask interviewee: “Why is it important?”, but in the previous conversation, interviewee didn’t say that it’s important. Thus, fixer should ask interviewee: “According to you, is it important? If yes, why?”, it would make interviewee feel not being forced into answering in certain way.

+ Convincing:

It could be convincing interviewee to sign the appearance release form which is totally in English and he/she can’t understand, or even if it’s translated to Vietnamese but it’s hard to understand, he/she didn’t experience it before, and is skeptical about it.

It could be convincing place’s owner to re-arrange the place so that there would be more light, or change the set up to a better scene, or stop an unwanted noise like music, construction for the time of shooting.

Many times when this is needed, producers I’ve worked with would spent time to explain to me why do they want it, which is it would make the video more beautiful/better, which I totally understand, but most of the time my question is not “why do you want it”? but “how can I convince them to make it happen for you”? Because you see from the film’s perspective, but they see from their perspectives, sometimes it’s just inconvenient for their business, and the film isn’t important for them. And Vietnam fixer has to try the best to convince them and ask for their favors.

+ Explaining about things happen and reminding about cultural difference:

This is for both sides: local people and film crew.

Example 1: film crew usually dress in the way they feel the most comfortable with. That means, if the weather is hot, then they would just wear short and t-shirt, even sleeves-less shirt. They do aware that if they enter temple/religious place or government/business office, they should wear more proper/formal clothes. However, if they film at places without dress code, then they would just wear the things they want, and not all the time it makes a good impression with interviewees/local people/local authority. Then fixer sometimes need to explain to local people that it’s hard and hot for crew to work if they wear formal clothes.

At the same time, fixer need to dress up properly/more formal, since fixer is the ‘face’ for the crew for that time.

Example 2: Explain for film crew if a local person mean or doesn’t mean something in his/her action.

It could be interviewee tried to say goodbye to cameraman but at that time cameraman was too far away and too focused into his camera. When he’s back interviewee already left. Vietnam fixer would let cameraman know that interviewee already tried to say goodbye.

It could be if an interviewee wants to take a photo with the film crew. For film crew, they focus into their work and doesn’t want much distraction, include taking photos. However, sometime few photos may be the only things an interview get. And sometime it’s special for interviewee to be filmed, thus, they want to keep some good memories.

+ Think ahead:

not only deal with current things, fixer need to think and prepare ahead. Because not all details can be discussed during preparation, many details only can be confirmed when crew arrive, see the places and make decisions. Thus, original plan could be changed dramatically. Or due to some unexpected things happen, filming can’t happen like planned schedule (could be weather, crew member is sick, interviewee isn’t available, the planned location can’t open for filming anymore …), then plan need to be changed and Vietnam fixer need to help/work together with crew for a new plan/plan B.

+ Be aware of things and act before being asked:

– Example 1: if crew says they have to change their return/onwards flight, then fixer need to check if they need to fly later than planned schedule, and if their visa is still valid then.

– Example 2: if at a tourist place which has a lot of visitors, and the visitors may block certain view for filming, then Vietnam fixer help film crew to ask for their favor of move elsewhere temporarily.

– Example 3: I remember myself working with a film crew around Hoan Kiem lake, and there was an old woman selling toys and souvenir stuffs for tourists. She usually toyed a noise-making toy on her hand and it makes quite an annoying noise. Since it’s a public place, and she doesn’t have any encounter with the filming crew, it’s not nice to just ask her to stop doing so. So I just came to her place, asking her about the goods, so she is being distracted to answer me and not play with the toy anymore. By the end, I also bought one of her goods and asked her for a favor to not play with the toy for the time the film crew is there. It’s better to build a relationship with people first before asking them.

+ Various no name tasks:

– Help crew to carry things if it’s suitable for fixer.

– Help to put lapel mic for interviewee. Specially for me as a female fixer, it would be easier for me to help female interviewee rather than normally, male cameraman.

– Help to buy things like: water, snack, entrance tickets, even gear …

– Shipping things

* Notes for film crew:

We know that you come to Vietnam to film and that means promote for us, so your work should be appreciated and supported more, rather than you have to deal with challenges from uncooperativeness from local people. Specially, if you have film permit which you’re legally filmed. We understand that and wish things were/are/will be easier for you.

However, for your own sake of easier filming, please do treat the situations as you’re asking people for their favor, although it may be the other way around that you’re doing Vietnam a favor by promoting us.

Want to inquiry for a filming project in Vietnam? => Contact Khuyen at 

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