Coming upon a road block on one of the main lanes in the central district, I thought, Oh no; had there been an accident? A crime? I looked at the yellow crime-scene-type tape stretched across the road and the official guys in green government uniforms stopping anyone from entering. In all cases of injured bodies lying in a street, I quickly find an alternate route. But I didn’t see any. I didn’t see any misshapen bicycles or motorbikes. I didn’t see anyone being hauled off in handcuffs. In fact I couldn’t see anything out of place.
One man obviously involved with whatever was going on sat on a shop stoop. I went over to get details. He was Russian, spoke about five words of English, but I did ascertain that they were making a movie. Damn; once again I hadn’t brought my camera. I really do need to buy a cheap one so that I will be prepared at all times for that prize winning photo.
A large green truck with a canvas canopy over the back was parked at the end of the block. They were just getting ready to film the peasants being shuffled in. The Vietnamese extras were rather well attired for a war-era film, but had been grimed up a bit. As they filmed, I watched the reaction of the onlookers, most of them born years after the conflict had ended. I did notice one gentleman in his 60’s and wondered what he was thinking.
The shot finished, I walked closer to the truck and saw who I assumed was the leading lady. Anorexic enough to look like a starving young woman from the countryside, she nevertheless had enough make-up on to look like a Vogue model. Three people simultaneously worked on her hair and maquillage before the next shot.
I debated running back to my hotel to grab that camera, but decided not to. However, I was definitely going to pack it along the next day and come back with the hopes that they would still be there. They weren’t.
Several days later, I ran into the crew in a different part of town and, of course, was without camera. But at least this time I approached the Vietnamese crew members and asked if they would be filming the following day. Yes, they would, but it would be down by the river. The following day, after almost giving up on ever finding them again, I finally was at a film location with a camera.
This time they were shooting a scene that involved a boat laden with chickens and bananas. It was a very artistically arranged vessel that looked in much better repair than the real, working boats alongside it. I went directly over to a man who appeared to be in charge and started asking about the film.
Maybe I should take a ride on a boat.