Most of my Italian friends still have no idea what I do. I often use the words 'journalist', 'field producer' or 'translator' to try and explain what my skills and experience entail, but each of these words explains a very small part of what we do.
As for my American friends, who are not from the business of course, they usually look at me baffled, probably thinking of Mr Wolf from Pulp Fiction or some sort of dirty mobster affair.
The truth is, most of the foreign reports, documentaries and TV news, as well as articles by foreign correspondents would not be possible without a fixer.
So here, this is what we do!
If we haven't pitched the story ourselves, we are contacted by journalists, producers or news-desks and presented with a specific news story they wish to cover. They lay out what they have envisioned and give us a budget and a number of days to get it done.
Then we, the fixers, get to work. We do our research and find all the key locations and characters, scout and talk to them, understand if they are actually valuable or not to tell the story and eventually book interviews and appointments. We figure out who is key to telling the story and where the story really is, what can be filmed and what can not and if there are permits needed or restrictions to filming and eventually, how to obtain them or find a way around them.
We open our address book and work all our years of contacts throughout the country to make sure we get all the facts straight and guarantee access to key people. Our mottos: "impossible is nothing" and "never take no for an answer".
Once the crew or journalist is in Italy, it is "field production" time, we make sure everything goes according to plan and the crew is safe and has nothing else to think about but film! We navigate and guide and of course we "fix" anything that needs fixing, we solve problems and find alternative solutions if needed.
Translation is obviously entailed. Well actually... more than translating we will be interpreting. We will share our culture, try and explain Italian politics, inform on traditions, folklore and history, so that our country, its people and its news are never lost in translation and are accurately reported in the foreign media.
This is the minimum required of us as fixers. Of course, we also must be excellent Restaurant and Hotel connoisseurs (who doesn't want to eat well when in Italy??), be able to book the best local crews and equipment (which we do, we really know everyone in the industry now!) and be safe drivers and general travel agents (as we also do hotel and transportation bookings).