Local Fixer: what they do, how to become one, and where to study
Have you ever wondered how foreign journalists, filmmakers, and photographers get their jobs done in countries where they don't speak the language, don't know the customs, and have limited resources? They hire local fixers - professionals who are their eyes and ears on the ground. A local fixer is someone who provides logistical support, expertise, and access to their clients in unfamiliar environments. They are responsible for everything from finding story ideas and sources, arranging interviews and locations, interpreting, and translating, to handling permits, visas, and security clearances. By the way, recently the ProfGuide career guidance center has developed a precise career orientation test, which will tell you which professions are suitable for you, provide a conclusion about your personality type and intelligence.
Local fixers can specialize in various fields such as journalism, film, advertising, tourism, NGO work, and research. Some fixers work exclusively in one area, while others have a broad range of skills and experience. For example, a film fixer can help with location scouting, casting, crew hiring, equipment rental, and permits. A journalism fixer can assist with researching stories, arranging interviews, and handling logistics for reporters. A tourism fixer can create customized itineraries for travelers, provide transportation, and offer insider knowledge of the local culture.
Tasks and Responsibilities
A local fixer's job can vary greatly depending on their client's needs and the country they are working in. Here are some of the common tasks and responsibilities of a local fixer:
- Researching story ideas and providing background information
- Identifying and contacting sources
- Arranging interviews and securing locations
- Translating and interpreting
- Facilitating logistics such as transportation, accommodation, and catering
- Obtaining permits, visas, and other legal documents
- Providing security and risk assessment
- Managing budgets and negotiating rates
- Handling unexpected situations and problem-solving
Pros and Cons
Like any profession, local fixing has its pros and cons. Here are some of the main advantages and disadvantages of being a local fixer:
- Exciting and dynamic work with opportunities to meet people from around the world
- Flexibility in terms of hours and assignments
- Chance to gain valuable experience in different fields
- Possibility of networking and building a professional reputation
- Chance to make a positive impact on clients and the local community
- Irregular income and unstable work
- High stress and long hours
- Potentially risky situations and exposure to dangerous environments
- Pressure to perform and meet client expectations
- Limited job security and benefits
Local fixers are in high demand in many parts of the world, especially in regions with political instability, conflict, or emerging economies. The demand for local fixers also depends on the industry they work in. For example, film and advertising companies often hire fixers for short-term projects, while journalism and NGO work may require more long-term commitments. In the United States, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have a specific job category for local fixers, but similar roles such as interpreters and translators are projected to grow by 20% between 2019 and 2029.
The income of local fixers varies widely depending on their location, experience, and industry. In the United States, the average hourly rate for interpreters and translators is around $28. In Canada, the average hourly rate for a film fixer is around $28, while a journalism fixer can earn anywhere from $300 to $700 a day. In the UK, a film fixer can make around £150 to £300 a day, while a tourism fixer can earn up to £500 a day. In Australia, the average hourly rate for a local fixer is around $60.
Where do Local Fixers Work?
Local fixers can work in any country, region, or city where there is a demand for their services. They can work as freelancers, contractors, or employees of media organizations, film companies, NGOs, or tourism agencies. Many local fixers work in countries with political instability or conflict, as they can provide valuable insight and access to local sources. Fixers can also work in countries with emerging economies or booming industries, as there may be a need for foreign clients to navigate unfamiliar environments.
Local fixers are needed in a variety of contexts, including:
- Journalism: Fixers can assist foreign correspondents in researching and reporting on stories in unfamiliar environments. They can provide access to sources, arrange interviews, and translate and interpret as needed.
- Film and TV production: Fixers can help filmmakers and producers with location scouting, casting, crew hiring, and logistics. They can also assist with obtaining permits, visas, and other legal documents.
- Advertising and marketing: Fixers can provide insights into local culture, customs, and consumer behavior, helping clients tailor their campaigns to specific markets.
- Tourism: Fixers can create customized itineraries for travelers, providing insider knowledge of the local culture, arranging transportation and accommodation, and offering language translation services.
Important Qualities of a Successful Local Fixer
To be a successful local fixer, there are certain qualities that are essential. These include:
- Excellent communication skills: Local fixers must be able to communicate effectively with clients, sources, and other stakeholders. This includes speaking multiple languages and being able to translate and interpret accurately.
- Strong organizational skills: Local fixers must be able to juggle multiple tasks and deadlines, coordinating logistics and managing budgets.
- Flexibility and adaptability: Local fixers must be able to adapt to changing circumstances and handle unexpected situations. They must also be able to work in different environments and cultures.
- Cultural awareness: Local fixers must have a deep understanding of the local culture, customs, and politics. They must be able to navigate sensitive issues and ensure their clients are respecting local norms and values.
- Problem-solving skills: Local fixers must be able to think on their feet and find creative solutions to logistical and other challenges.
People who are not suited to being local fixers may struggle with the high-pressure, fast-paced nature of the work, or may not be comfortable working in unfamiliar environments or with people from diverse cultures.
Step-by-Step Career Path
If you're interested in pursuing a career as a local fixer, here is a potential step-by-step path:
- Gain experience in a relevant field, such as journalism, film, tourism, or marketing.
- Develop strong language skills, especially in the languages of the region you want to work in.
- Build a network of contacts and establish a reputation for reliability and professionalism.
- Consider taking courses or workshops in relevant areas, such as media production, project management, or cultural studies.
- Develop a strong online presence, including a website, social media accounts, and a portfolio of work.
- Start working on small projects as a freelancer or contractor, building your skills and reputation.
- Seek out opportunities to work with established media organizations or production companies, either as an employee or contractor.
- Continue to develop your skills and knowledge, staying up to date on industry trends and developments.
How to Become a Local Fixer
In the United States, there is no specific degree or certification required to become a local fixer. However, having a background in a relevant field such as journalism, film, or tourism can be helpful. Strong language skills and cultural awareness are also essential. Many local fixers gain experience through on-the-job training, working with experienced professionals or media organizations.
There are also training programs and courses available that can help aspiring local fixers develop their skills and knowledge. These may include courses in media production, project management, language translation, or cultural studies.
Higher education may also be helpful, especially for those looking to specialize in a particular field. For example, a degree in journalism or film production can provide a solid foundation for those interested in becoming fixers in those industries.
In terms of residency or graduate programs, there are no specific programs for local fixers. However, there are programs in related fields that can be helpful, such as media studies, international relations, or cultural anthropology.
Where to Become a Local Fixer
Local fixers can work in any country or region, but some countries may have more opportunities than others. Here are five examples of where to become a local fixer in the USA, Canada, UK, and Australia:
- New York City Fixer
- Los Angeles Fixer
- Chicago Fixer
- Washington DC Fixer
- Miami Fixer
- Toronto Film Fixer
- Vancouver Fixer
- Montreal Fixer
- Calgary Fixer
- Ottawa Fixer
- London Fixer
- Manchester Fixer
- Glasgow Fixer
- Cardiff Fixer
- Belfast Fixer
- Sydney Fixer
- Melbourne Fixer
- Brisbane Fixer
- Perth Fixer
- Adelaide Fixer
Each of these examples has a website or online presence where interested individuals can learn more about local fixer services in those areas.
Can You Enter the Profession with a Different Degree?
While there is no specific degree or certification required to become a local fixer, having a background in a relevant field can be helpful. However, it is possible to enter the profession with a different degree, as long as you have the necessary language skills, cultural awareness, and professional experience.
For example, someone with a degree in business or law may be able to transition to a career as a tourism or advertising fixer, as they would have the necessary skills in project management, negotiation, and client relations. Similarly, someone with a degree in cultural studies or international relations may be able to become a fixer in the journalism or NGO sectors.
Ultimately, what matters most in this profession is practical experience and a strong reputation for professionalism, reliability, and quality work. As long as you can demonstrate these qualities and have the necessary language and cultural skills, you can enter the profession with a different degree background.