The Hubert PNG Project is my favourite out of the 3 ads we made in Papua New Guinea! This is the last ad in our 3 weeks shoot in Port Moresby.
Hubert is the National Captain of Papua New Guinea’s rugby team, Puk Puks. From our first conversation on the phone I had an image of a very humble person, and indeed he is very humble despite all his achievements. As far as we knew, his schedule was pretty tight so before the shoot day we proposed to get the sunset shot of him looking at the Port Moresby scenery with a body double. We found one of the EMTEK staff that has the same height and dark skin, because Hubert’s dark skin is very rare, a really deep and elegant black. Perfect for a jewellery shot.
We shot our first day in the Army barracks that have a rugby field. We wanted to shoot at an actual rugby field but unfortunately all the stadiums in Port Moresby are being renovated for the upcoming Pacific Games, so the only one available was the Army Barracks rugby field.
In the morning the shoot went very well. Perfect lighting with Hubert, an amazing athlete, running around the field and we got some action shots. Unfortunately in the afternoon he needed to go for training so we waited until afternoon and continued the hero product shot in the gym’s changing room.
Then problems started in the afternoon. I realised that my hotel room light went off a couple of times last night, but I thought it was just an electrical problem. It turns out that it was a much bigger issue that was causing it. For the last couple of days the city had a short supply of gasoline – which is the main source of energy in Port Moresby – because there was a riot and road block from one of the villages around Port Moresby. The police shot to death two youngsters in that village only for selling buai (bettlenut).
In Port Moresby, chewing and selling bettlenut is prohibited throughout the entire city. Selling buai has become an illegal activity and police shootings cause problems like this (most of the time) resulting in riots.
This village road that is used by all the gasoline supply trucks was blocked for almost a week, resulting in blackouts everywhere in the city.
For us it’s a huge problem. In Indonesia we use power generators for almost every shoot, but we couldn’t get hold of even a small generator for this day. It was funny to shoot for an hour till the electricity went down and wait for an hour and shoot again for an hour. On and on and on for four blackouts.
Hubert and all the extras talent waited patiently hour by hour. We were in a bit of panic mode (but also relaxed and enjoy our hour by hour break!). We shot until night and got our hero end shot at the end of the day. Despite of the electricity problem, every shot on this day were beautiful!
The second day started a bit slow. We did a beach shoot with Hubert around 5.00 am and went back to the hotel for free breakfast. After that we were planning to go to the supermarket to get some chilli sambal sauce (we are Indonesians and cannot eat without our chilli!).
So we got in the car and we were ready for our sambal sauce! I remember a couple of days before, Graham, our Security Manager told me that in case something happens to him, I need to get behind the wheel and just drive away pushing the emergency button under the steering wheel continuously for 4 seconds. Because Coca Cola’s company car is in the top priority of G4S security, so when we push that button all the G4S security and police personnel will track down the car and start searching, following, and protecting the car. It was good advice to remember so I was always aware of the security situations.
So! We were on the way to the supermarket, and suddenly I heard Graham talking and shouting on his phone “WHAT?” “WHERE?”, and he started driving like crazy. I saw him pushing the emergency button. “Oh I hope it’s not a riot!”, that was the only thinking I had! After one and a half minutes crazy driving (that felt like an hour), he told us to jump and follow G4S security to the Coca Cola factory. It turned out they had an armed robbery going on in the Coca Cola factory! Graham started chasing the robber while we waited at the factory. I needed a smoke! My heart was racing very fast during that 90 seconds trip to the factory!
After about 15 minutes, Graham couldn’t find the robber and told us to hop in the car again and we should go ASAP because the situation there was getting dangerous. He told us if one robbery is going on, there is a big chance a second robbery will happen, but maybe in another factory in the area.
It turns out due to the road block all the gasoline stock for the car is also empty. Police cars had been reduced to almost 70% and G4S security cars reduced to about 40%. That’s a perfect moment for robbers to do their operations! All the domestic flights already stopped too. No gasoline, no nothing! If the roadblock continues for another 3 days, we will be locked up at the hotel (because if there was a total power blackout there is very big chance of a riot going on) and we would need to wait there until there is an international flight available again. Oh it sounded really scary!
But anyway, after that armed robbery scene, we went to Peter’s house and started shooting there like nothing happened! Haha! Peter was Hubert’s first coach. He was the one that found Hubert’s talents and took him into his family and started training him. Easy lunch time shot, and suddenly I remembered that we failed to get our sambal chilli sauce!
The other shoot is not too challenging after the blackout and the armed robbery situations. We shot Hubert in city scapes, his training and joking around in a Scottish kilt. Hey! I need some adrenaline again! Ha! Cara, our lovely client, already flew back to Indonesia on the second shoot day for Hubert, so she missed all the armed robbery situation! but don’t worry, I’m sure there will be another PNG shoot for us! 🙂
We went to a local bar after, as I’m quoting Graham, “A long ?@!?#! day!” It was really nice to grab SP beers (the best beer in the world! I really miss SP!) after all the tensions and adventures for the day!.
The third day went very well, just doing the team training shot… and it’s a wrap!! Thanks so much to Coca Cola for this amazing project! We got time to document inspiring people, learn about a new culture and sip the best beer in the world! Papua New Guinea, we miss you already! I hope we can meet again in our next shoot!
Story by Mahatma Putra (Director)
Photos courtesy of Hurstle Manuel Yee