Media production takes us to all corners of the globe. From sweltering deserts, to sub-zero ice caves; the bustling metropolis to remote highlands; members of World Fixer have seen it all.
We asked fixers, journalists, and producers to reflect on the best and most challenging locations they have filmed in.
The most memorable place I have ever filmed at is probably Everest base camp in Tibet when directing for China From Above 2 for the National Geographic Channel. Everest was so breathtakingly beautiful but utterly foreboding and inhospitable – it was physically and mentally challenging at the same time.
I’ve filmed in every province/autonomous region in China from the wild Tibetan plateau, Xinjiang to mega cities like Beijing and Shanghai.
The Tibetan plateau is by far the most memorable for its beauty of nature, wildlife, culture and people.
Between Clouds and Dreams, directed by Phil Agland, a five episode series on the environmental challenges facing China, was also great. 19 months of filming on 4K, stretching over 3 years.
We travelled to amazing locations, such as the source of Yangtze river and the Kekexili nature reserve. We filmed many ordinary people with extraordinary stories. It was physically, mentally and emotionally challenging, but it was a true honour to work with someone like Phil, who possesses unique vision, a deep sense of responsibility to the world and total commitment to what he believes. The experience has been both a privilege and inspiration.
My most memorable location is the small island off the coast of Fujian Province that Cai Guoqiang decided to do his fireworks piece on for Netflix original feature doc ‘Skyladder’ – no electricity and a massive production team waiting for ten days for the wind to drop so we could do it! But beautiful scenery and amazing locals made it an incredible experience.
My most challenging probably the Hutongs of Beijing with Leonardo Dicaprio for ‘Before the Flood’ – we were on rickshaws and his security team put us under strict instruction that we couldn’t be stationary for more than one minute as there he would be mobbed as soon as people recognized him! In Beijing traffic in the Hutongs this is a challenge! I tried not to think of insurance claims should anything happen in the crazy traffic…
Over the years, I have been lucky to work with major journals and television networks. While this incredible work took me across the Middle East and warzones such as Libya, I relish most the moments I am working around centres of science and knowledge, ancient and modern, such as the historic city of Cairo.
Last year, filming with CNN at the splendid complex of Karnak temples in the Egyptian city of Luxor. I got to harness many a talent. From choosing the locations, to deciphering ancient hieroglyphs. I was behind camera and fronting the camera in a single production, revealing an incredible inkling linking the past with the present. The hype style at the hypostyle hall in Karnak was the CNN of its day with the ability to broadcast at the grandest scale the might of Egypt.
Patentfabrik Hohenofen (Germany)- Today the paper mill is a technical monument. With the fall of communism, the GDR company had to stop production and many people lost their jobs. The location is located between Berlin and Hamburg and is an absolute insider tip.
The whole facility is in a well-kept original condition and accessible for filming. Available are the necessary silence for the sound recordings, a large car park for the vehicle fleet in proximity, power current on the site and ample rooms for the logistics organisation. I particularly like the house next to our main location, where an artist lives next to a small lake. Enviable!
The best place I have ever shot? It was in March 2017 in Guatemala, on the project called “Heritage ” we went into a sacred cave, called Naj Tunich to film the process of restoration for some Mayan graffiti that was found into the cave. The graffiti belonged to the 5th century AD, being there was amazing. We stayed two hours in the cave and it worth the long walked to get there.
Over a thirteen year career, I have filmed pretty much across the length and breadth of China. Most memorable projects are trekking through the Wolong forest in a camouflage panda suit in search of wild pandas for Australia’s ‘60 Minutes’, standing paralyzed with fear on a swaying wire catwalk suspended 100m above the raging Yangtze River on the No. 4 Nanjing Bridge for the BBC’s ‘Supersized Earth’ and trying in vain to herd temperamental yaks on the Tibetan foothills for PBS’s ‘First Peoples’.
My most memorable location would have to be the Joint Security Area in Panmunjom, which I first visited with the guys from Global News Canada earlier this year.
I’ve only seen JSA in movies and the news, where North and South Korean military stand guard facing each other. It was a pretty surreal experience for me since South Korean civilians do not have access to the area unless we’re on special media tours like this.
JSA is the place with the blue buildings where the historic handshake between Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in took place last April.
The most challenging location where I’ve filmed would have to be this pork cutlet restaurant in Seoul that claims to serve the spiciest pork cutlets in South Korea.
We were filming a segment where two locals were challenging the host to see who could eat the most spicy cutlet. From smelling the sauce cooking in the kitchen to trying a bite of the cutlet… I’ve always taken pride in holding my spicy foods well, but after a single, potent bite, my stomach was burning and I was wrenching in agony.
To cut a long story short, one of the challengers ended up in an emergency room the next day. Enough said!
The most complicated filming trip I’ve worked on was leading 40 people on a traverse of Nepal filming a documentary. We had four tonnes of kit and were on an extremely tight schedule.
We had a convoy of around ten 4×4’s and were in the foothills below Shishapangma, the world’s 14th highest mountain shortly after the monsoon. The roads were a wash-out on sloppy mud until we arrived at a gigantic landslide that had wiped out half a kilometre of road, rendering it completely impassable.
After a couple of phone calls we arranged a flat bed truck and a 30-seater coach to meet us on the other side and a team of ten porters assembled within two hours. The word was out that we’d pay a thousand rupees a man to carry a load half a kilometre and men were literally running down the hillsides to help us. Vehicles were emptied and around a million pounds worth of camera gear was strapped to people’s heads and backs and the show continued.