In the world of video production, fixers are the heroes no one ever talks about. Fixers do a ton to help productions get started. First and foremost though, they provide on-the-ground support in nearly every part of production, including but not limited to: logistical support, permit acquisition, entry through customs and immigration for foreign contractors and materials, location management and scouting, local talent and crew hires, equipment rentals and the arrangement of travel, transport and accommodations for all of the above.
For every city or state you want to film in, the rules and regulations will be entirely different. That’s why the importance of having a local fixer on hand can’t be overstated! You want to film in Boston, huh? Well, a Boston fixer can tell you about the ins and outs of that process and you can thank them later for the hours and hours of pre-production work they’ll save you.
There are a lot of rules in the city of Boston, Massachusetts. Productions will need to have state permits and licenses for things like productions with 30 or more crew members, or use of open flames or pyrotechnics. In the case of the latter, a certificate of competency license is required for individuals or companies who conduct or engage in special effects. Now, there are a lot of perks of hiring local, but you can’t just hire any asshole who loves to blow things up, right? So your fixer will help you hire the right person who actually knows how to execute practical special effects without injuring people. On top of that, they’ll get them fully certified with the city to do so. Pretty neat!
The Importance of Timing
Your fixer knows that your production is also going to need to submit any applications for a permits at least 20 days prior to filming or engaging in any other activity needing permits (like welding or cutting, or use or storage of flammable or combustible liquids.) Not to mention any use of aircraft or drones! And what is a film set nowadays without a drone?
A fixer will make sure you are all set to go on shoot day. Just imagine the alternative. You’re filming at The Prudential Center, let’s say. You’re flying your drone which you may have thought you had full permission to do, but you’re actually one permit or notice short. So, the Big Bad Man comes in and shuts down your production. You’ve now lost time and money and your footage is unusable. A fixer makes sure this never happens.
Your fixer will know too, that any production with a live audience will require certain permits. Live situations are a bit more tricky since there’s more liability involved. Imagine shooting the Pops performing on the Fourth of July at the Esplanade using a five camera fly-pack. The liabilities in this situation can be endless. But imagine having a fixer to shake this scenario down to the vital information and figure out what exact steps you need to take to be able to get the green light to do this.
Steps to the Green
There are three steps you need to follow in order to be able to film in the city of Boston. First, make sure you’re insured with personal injury protection valued at at least $1 million and can present at least a $5,000 security bond to cover any potential damage to city property. Those may seem like pretty hefty numbers! But your fixer knows they’re actually pretty decent compared to other cities and that you’re getting a good deal. After you’ve got the two items above in hand, you’ll then submit your formal request with the Boston Film Bureau (which, if you’re smart, you’ve got a fixer doing this for you with her personal connect at the department!)
At this stage, you should also be anticipating any permits you’ll need based on your script and start the steps to obtain them. The final step will be to meet with the folks at the Bureau in person and being able to show up with all your needed permits in hand will go a long way with the folks who will either accept or deny your filming request.
Streamlining the Process
So, yeah, it isn’t always as easy as 1, 2, 3 to film in the city of Boston. But, if Boston is integral to your story or brand image, it is definitely worth the effort. Having a fixer on hand for these instances is invaluable. They take all the chaos pre-production can present, especially in a new city, and organize it all into easily managed steps your production can take. At ECG, we have deep roots in Boston and can fix up a production there with no problem. But that’s not it! We have connections with fixers all over the place. Wherever your story takes your production, we know someone with the local knowledge to get us started.
So where will your story take us? Get the conversation started today!