I’m Pascal Antoine and last year I got the opportunity to work as a fixer for a production company doing work on a series for the Travel Channel called “Buried Worlds”. One of the episodes was to be filmed in Haiti and the company decided to hire me even though I was living in Florida at the time (they usually prefer hiring fixers who are local to the area in which they will be filming.)
In the world of media production, a fixer is someone who helps the producers make contacts, translate, and generally find their way. Fixers are usually used in countries that are either unstable, going through social unrest, or just generally difficult to navigate. (Haiti often satisfies many of the requirements simultaneously.)
In this case, the job also required general project management, budgeting, providing travel logistics, hiring local staff, and helping validate the narrative the production company is trying to tell. My expenses included hundreds of dollars in Skype calls to Haiti which often included conferencing the production company which is located in Los Angeles, along with the potential interviewees in Haiti. This resulted in lots of time-zone juggling, which sometimes resulted in very long days for me. However, the excitement of the project made it a pleasure and easily allowed me to trudge on.
When I found out the Haiti episode was to deal with Voodoo culture and religion, I was hesitant as this aspect of Haitian culture has often been negatively and inaccurately portrayed, propagating stereotypes and falsehoods. These are usually conveyed by way of propaganda which has absolutely nothing to do with the historical practice of the religion lacking in context and credibility. However, after being promised that the production would be made with integrity and respect for Haitian culture, I decided I was in.
Since I had previously lived in Haiti for 6 years, I had plenty of experience with the culture and language. Being of Haitian descent, my video production background, my extensive network of contacts as well as my previous experience as a fixer in Haiti convinced them to hire me for the gig.
The production company and I spent almost three months on conference calls, planning, and going over logistics. To my surprise, during one of these conference calls, I was asked if I wouldn’t mind appearing in the episode as a general guide and friend of the show’s host Don Wildman. Being an undercover ham, I jumped at the chance. We went over a couple of scenarios, and eventually, it was time to fly to Haiti. Continue…