What does a fixer do?
In the TV business, you will often here the term “local fixer” being tossed around. A local fixer basically arranges interviews, location permits, transport, hotels, meals, EVERYTHING that an out of town crew needs to shoot a story. Sometimes also referred to as a production coordinator, or local producer, this person needs to know film and have the magic touch to get things done. A lot of these local fixers are journalists or work in TV in some capacity.
When dealing with fixers in Argentina, always ask for exact details, such as schedules and names of interviewees (with national identity document numbers, if possible). The reason is that it is very common to tell a crew that “the interview has been arranged” when all that has been made is the first contact. This stringing along can go on for months, and often the truth doesn´t come out until the issue is pressed (ie, you´re there with a camera crew and the interviewee has only agreed to an off camera interview).
On the other hand, a lot of time foreign TV crews think that just by getting the interviewee on TV that the interviewee will agree to sign any appearance release or will give access for free. One fixer told me that a crew wanted to interview soccer hero Diego Maradona. Maradona demanded 100k EUROS for the interview. The crew said “this interview will get you on TV”. The fixer said “you don´t get it, Maradona is BIGGER than TV in Argentina, and in a lot of the world”. A lot of cable channels that exist in Europe or the US don´t exist in Argentina, or a company might believe that they don´t need any advertising.
When we at San Telmo Productions work as local production fixers in Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and all of South America for out of town crews, we believe honesty is the best policy. And a great fixer is one who can always come up with a plan B (or C, or D. . . )