Azamara Journey - Big enough to have all the luxury, small enough to get to exotic river locations

Discovery Cruising & 6P’s

After 10 years of traveling  Asia, my latest journey was by far one of the most interesting ways to travel through South East Asia – a statement and a feeling I thought I would never have. I’d often categorized the cruisers as the ‘blue-rinse’ end of travel market. Only for those tourists who had retired from gainful employment, quite happy to drift away the years. And I had never considered cruising an option,  not until my client, a production company from North America, contacted me for assistance with a new *Discovery channel show, focusing on the inner-workings of high-end cruise ships.

It was an amazing job and start to the year – possibly the best job a ‘fixer’ could have. Fifteen days cruising on a luxury cruise liner. Yeah, I couldn’t believe my luck either. Not a bad way to make a living! The ship, I was lucky enough to find myself on, was the Azamara Journey. A modern mid-sized voyager with high-end restaurants and world-class entertainment. I was expecting to be sleeping in a hammock in the engine room – but no, I was given a beautifully appointed stateroom with modern amenities and a view! And I had this to enjoy for the next 15 days.

Azamara Journey - 7 ports, 4 countries in 15 days - the Film Fixer

Azamara Journey – Thailand and Vietnam journey               – 7 ports, 4 countries in 15 days – the Film Fixer

This ‘easy’ life I was having, was not only implied by my friends and family, who remained at home, but also a number of passengers with whom I had met during the journey. A few of them commented on my ‘easy job’. A perception that I allowed them to have – cruising on top of the water like a swan, but thrashing about below like a duck is often the best way to perform in the spotlight. But it wasn’t all Shuffleboard and Mojitos.

My task was to ensure the crew – Director, DoP, 2nd Camera Operator, Sound recordist, Camera Assistant and Production Assistant – and equipment legally operated on-board and ashore, throughout the ships 15 day itinerary. It was my role to ensure all the filming permits and permissions for Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong were in-place by the time the ship departed. As well as liaising with the relevant Ministries of those countries governments, organizing locations onshore, dealing with customs officials, completing legal paperwork and to ensure a the crew had a ‘smooth sail’.

Filming behind the scenes - on the Azamara Bridge - the control centre of the ship

Filming behind the scenes – on the Azamara Bridge – the control centre of the ship

How did I do this? Well, as my father put it to me over 30 years ago “Son, it’s all about the six ‘P’s of success – Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance” (apologies for the ‘Australian’ism’). It’s this motto, and fear of failure (or fear of looking like a goose – and nobody likes looking like a goose) has given me the ability to look like I’m on holiday, when really the work was already completed weeks and months before.

Knowing that I’d be marooned on a ship (yes, that’s how I initially felt), I had no choice but to make sure all the pieces were in place before I stepped on board. Weeks of correspondence prior to the sailing took place. Government officials were contacted, informed, negotiated with, begged and thanked, all in the days leading up to the shoot. It really was like I was apart of the planning of the ships departure. And just like myself, I depended that the ship itself used the principal of the ‘six P’s’, as I had a crew eager to shoot sequences on shore and government people to meet at each port.

the Film Fixer - SE Asia CruiseThomas A. Edison stated “Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration’. The quality of the cruise lines service – itinerary, ship and crew –  were outstanding, superior and exceptional. Credit due to their commitment to purposeful planning and thoughtful systems. Maybe their ships manuals and standard operating procedures had Mr Edison to thank.

Thanks to my fathers ‘6xPs’, I managed a successful shoot, and at the same time presented myself as cool, calm and collected.  If only I had used the same Australian adage when it came to bringing the sea sickness pills – that’s a whole other gush…I mean blog.



Terry Gordon
Terry Gordon - The Film Fixer

Born in Sydney, Australia, and growing up in Wellington, New Zealand, Terry learnt how to work with and manage the needs of TV and production crews when he was the public relations coordinator for the Royal Australian Air Force aerobatic team, ‘The Roulettes’. His fourteen years in the Air Force has given him a sound background in people and operations management.

Terry moved to Asia in 2005 and has spent the past 10 years organizing and leading small group journeys through Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, China and Japan. When not fixing, Terry takes contract work in remote places – In 2010 Terry spent 6 months in Kabul, Afghanistan as an Operations manager for Supreme Group, and most recently with the Exxon-Mobil LNG project in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

Terry is the founder of Asia Film Fixers, a film and tv production support consultancy currently operating in 10 SE Asian countries. Terry has experience managing the needs of small and large unit productions. Terry has worked with Channel Seven Australia’s Sunday Night; Roving Enterprises: Before the game and 7pm Project; Network Ten’s Good morning Australia , Sports Tonight and V8 Supercar productions; Channel Nine’s The AFL Footy Show and Wide World of Sport; The ABC’s ‘Sleek Geeks’ with Adam Spencer and Dr Karl, Cream Productions’ Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan & Modern Television’s (UK) journey to Burma with Griff Rhys Jones; as well as numerous documentary, film, television and sporting personalities – Australian film legend and hollywood star Jack Thompson, Australian Olympic swimmer and TV presenter Nicole Stevenson, Winter Olympic Gold Medalist Alisa Camplin, Formula 1 driver David Coulthard, AFL footballer Jason Akermanis, Supercar racing legends Greg Murphy and Jason Bargwanna, and Australian comedians Col Elliot, the late Lucky Grills, David Hughes and Julian Schiller. Most recently, Terry was the lead fixer for BBC Top Gear Special Myanmar (Burma).

Terry also has extensive experience managing travel and tour operations, specialising in unique and tailor-made itineraries throughout Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Myanmar.
Terry is currently the Director of Operations for Heritage Line, a boutique cruise company that offers luxury 5 star cruises in Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar.