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Sinu and Sisi’s Search for Blue Pearls

- By JOHN MITCHELL Photos by JONE LUVENITOGA

A movie titled Pearl in Paradise, shot entirely in Pacific Harbour, follows a woman’s journey to find a mythical blue pearl. In a twist in the tale, that tropical adventure eventually leads her to an unexpected romance with an author. But before lead actress Jill Wagner could ‘search and find’ the blue pearl, two locals were on a separate adventure of their own, looking for blue pearls used as props in the movie. Sinu Naulumatua and Sisilia Seviua were contracted to work in the props department to help plan, design, procure and store all props used in the movie, and make sure that they were available on time and within the budget. Their quest to come up with the mystic pearly prop, which plays a central role in the US$2.5 million production, led them to Hot Glass Fiji, a glassblowi­ng business based on the Coral Coast. “This is the second movie that I’ve been engaged in and it has indeed been an exciting learning experience,” Prop Master Naulumatua said.

Naulumatua, an establishe­d stage performer who during her stint with USP’s Oceania Dance Theatre featured in production­s such as Moana; the Rising of the Sea, said her involvemen­t in movies has opened up a world of possibilit­ies and dreams. “In the past I was involved with television ads, stage shows and dance production­s. Working movie sets has been a privilege, especially the opportunit­y to learn from big guns in the business,” she said over lunch break at The Pearl’s Golf Club. “Crew members from abroad have been kind and down to earth and have always made me feel special. The whole experience has been amazing and artistical­ly, this has taken me to another level of profession­alism.” Echoing similar sentiments, Sisilia Seviua, said the pair’s search for the perfect prop that looked like a real pearl was an adventure of its own. “A lady whose children I took for dance classes suggested I visit a place on the Coral Coast where glass blowing was

done. We went there, gave our specificat­ions and they made the pearl for us,” Naulumatua said. “We took it back and showed the production team. Everyone liked it very much.” After procuring the blue pearl the pair had to look for a small wooden box to put it in. They stumbled across the box while rummaging through the range of bric-a-brac items at Value City’s Suva branch. “The box had to look old, like one from the 1800s so once we bought it, our crew did a good job of making it look very aged. That’s that type of work we do and it can be very demanding,” Seviua said. Alice Hill, of Hot Glass Fiji, the country’s first glass blowing studio, said creating the pearls took around 20 minutes. “They wanted a few samples so we made four pearls in different sizes and colours, in blown and solid forms,” Hill said. “This is the third time we have been asked to produce something for a movie. We’ve also been involved with production­s like Wrecked Season II and Bachelor in Paradise.” Wrecked (2017) is the animated version of TV series, Lost, while Bachelor in Paradise (2018) is an Australian eliminatio­n style reality TV production which was shot at Mango Bay Resort in March. Laisa Basirau, one of two glassblowe­rs who created the pearls from molten glass, described her exciting job. “The pearls were made from molten glass gathered from a furnace with a temperatur­e of around 1500 degrees centigrade. We worked on it through the process of iridisatio­n (to give a rainbow-like effect on the surface) and came up with two colours – teal and turquoise,” Basirau said. “The pearls were made to the prop department’s specificat­ion and I think we did a good job. They were impressed!” The Korotogo villager has worked with Hot Glass Fiji over the past four years and looks forward to many more similar business opportunit­ies. Pearl in Paradise’s executive producer, Michael Goldstein, said most of the movie’s US$2.5 million budget would be pumped into the local economy, adding that Fiji was fast establishi­ng itself as a filmmaking destinatio­n. Pearl in Paradise was shot back to back after Free Rain, which was also shot over 15 days at the Shangri La’s Fijian Resort on the Coral Coast. “So ‘Free Rain’ was the first one. That was the great idea that we were able to get everybody and do it economical­ly by being able two shoot to production­s at the same time,” FBC quoted Goldstein as saying. He said one of the reasons Fiji appealed to moviemaker­s, apart from its natural beauty, was the country’s friendly people, a statement which actress Wagner also approved. Wagner plans to come back for a holiday and said she rated her Fiji experience among the best. “From a scale of one to 10, I’d say 20. Fiji is so romantic,” she said. Wagner is an American film and television actress, model and game show personalit­y. She was a co-host for the ABC comic competitio­n show Wipeout from 2008 to 2014. A total of 96 locals are crewmember­s of Pearl in Paradise. The movie will be released on the Hallmark Channel sometime in August.

 ??  ?? Naulumatua (with folders) in action during the shooting of Pearl in Paradise.
Naulumatua (with folders) in action during the shooting of Pearl in Paradise.
 ??  ?? Film shoot in a bush outside Pacific Harbour.
Film shoot in a bush outside Pacific Harbour.
 ??  ?? On set paramedic attends to an injured crew member.
On set paramedic attends to an injured crew member.
 ??  ?? Lights, Camera, Action!
Lights, Camera, Action!
 ??  ?? Prop department…Sinu (front) and Sisi (back).
Prop department…Sinu (front) and Sisi (back).
 ??  ?? Lead actress, Jill Wagner
Lead actress, Jill Wagner

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