by Ginger Gentile and Amy Ramirez (contributing blogger)
You’ve gotten the green light from the executive producer or the funding needed to start shooting in Argentina. But you’ve never been, speak very basic Spanish and have a tight schedule and an even a tighter budget.
So finding a local production fixer (aka local production coordinator) who works fast and can get stuff done is important.
How do you find the right one?
Here are the questions I would ask:
1) Does the fixer have a combination of local know-how and international experience?
A lot of expats are offering themselves as production fixers but some of them have very little experience filming in Argentina and their accents might mean that they will be offered higher prices than locals.
2) Does everything seem too cheap or too expensive?
When you ask for a budget, most of the time you are on the look-out for being overcharged. Argentina isn’t as cheap as it was a few years ago, but it should be less expensive than shooting in the US or Europe. But also beware of budgets that seem too good to be true. Plan to spend between $275 to $400 USD per day for a fixer who is reputable (more money for short shoots and complicated shoots), not including transport and costs. Hiring a film student for much less is possible, but then you might not get all the material you need.
3) Does your local fixer say “no” to some of your requests?
Beware the fixer who says yes to everything. In Argentina it is culturally acceptable to say that things are possible when they are not. Some locations and interviews are impossible or cost a lot of money. Better to have a plan B or change the schedule BEFORE you get down to Argentina.
4) Does your fixer offer you ways to save money?
Argentina is not the US or Europe, and sometimes you can save money by spending more upfront.
A good example: it’s actually cheaper to hire a chauffeur than to have a frazzled PA driving a rented van–the van will have to be rented (few people in Buenos Aires have cars, and most are very small), parked, and driven through crazy traffic. For about the same price as renting a van, get one with a driver and don’t worry about parking and traffic.
Remember, a good local fixer is more than just someone who gets film permits and translates. They can help get what you need and negotiate between different cultures. In Argentina, people are very reluctant to sign appearance releases, but a good fixer will know how to get them to sign, and turn a “no” into a “yes” and suggest ideas, locations and know where to get equipment at midnight.
At San Telmo Productions, we have acted as local fixer (field production coordinator) for crews from the US, Australia, Canada, UK and Europe who come to Argentina to shoot TV shows and documentaries. We love showing the world that Argentina is not only a beautiful country, but a great place to film.