Raine Grady, Thailand-based TV host and Capital TV producer, takes you behind the scenes of a five star movie shoot for a five star property
Our team has been making TV programs and short films for many networks and clients over the years and a few of those have been in the edgy resort city of Pattaya.
Pattaya is known for many things, a few of them infamous and a quite a few of them seedy, but over recent years I’ve been back there more and more often for productions on five star projects. Suddenly Pattaya is home to some of Thailand’s best hotels and its now the new destination for high end property developments with prices to match.
Capital TV’s Raine Grady takes us to a special movie shoot down on the Waterfront.
On this occasion I was there to make a short film for a new project called the Waterfront. Its name suggests exactly where it is, on the water front near Pattaya’s Bali Hai Pier.
It’s been newly taken over by the Tulip Group, the name behind some of Pattaya’s leading projects such as Centara Grand Residence, the Centara Avenue Residence & Suites, The Cliff, Amari Residences and several other projects, all in prime locations.
Once it’s complete, this stunning 50-story tower will consist of 300 residences and a 100 room hotel managed by the London-based Park Plaza Group Europe. It will in fact be the group’s first hotel in Asia.
Partly because the Chairman of Park Plaza Group, Eli Papouchado fell in love with the destination and partly because his partner in the project, Tulip Group CEO Kobi Elbaz, is a force to be reckoned with in this town when it comes to luxury development.
So why was I here?
“I want you to make a movie for me about the Waterfront project” Kobi told me. “And hurry up because we’ve already sold 50 percent of the units”.
Raine Grady – TV host.
OK, sounds interesting, but right now I am standing on the site looking at a pretty nice multi-level showroom and a sizeable hole in the ground. Construction is well underway but it will be several years before the building is complete.
So how do I take a crew of 10 people, two top models, and make this into a movie?
Well, just ask any top developer. It’s all about building a dream.
We began with the concept. The Waterfront’s theme is “living on the edge”. That was something cool to work with right from the start.
Our model Redin Hadzic was of Bosnian origin and a familiar face on Thai TV commercials. His role was to emulate a film noir Phillip Marlow character and head into Pattaya like a detective on a mission.
To capture the mood, the whole production was to be produced in black and white with only the colour red appearing. If you’ve seen the opening of the movie Sin City you’ll know what I mean.
The seductive Polina beckons.
Our mystery girl was Zoom model Polina Kondratikova, a Russian bombshell, who would appear throughout the video, mysteriously surprising our lead actor and then finally meeting him at the end.
Scene one began with the car. No suave detective should arrive in Pattaya in a pickup truck.
“Use my car”, said Kobi.
The latest Mercedes SL55? Well, OK.
I was lucky enough to collect the car myself. A few instructions later and I was casually driving down Pattaya beach road, top down, traveling in style.
The drama began when I stopped at an ATM for some cash.
I wandered over, smiled smugly at the dazzled tourists and jumped back in. The only problem was, I couldn’t restart the car. You don’t look too cool when furiously pushing a dozen buttons and all you can do is raise the roof.
The hard working film crew in action.
After a few false starts, the first day of the shoot was upon us.
The next drawback was that Redin was so nervous driving our gorgeous Mercedes that he refused to do a U turn, just in case he scratched something. That entailed me on one end of the road and assistant producer Billy Vaughan on the other end waiting for our model to drive nonchalantly past on film and then screech to a halt so we could jump in to turn the car around.
The audience of road workers standing nearby no doubt thought we were a bunch of mad Farangs who’d gone crazy in the midday heat. Well, they weren’t totally wrong.
Filming in the showroom was the easy part. This is a project where just about every angle is a winner. Our photographer Alain had to be dragged off the set. Well, really. 300 photos in one spot is more than enough.
Then to the jacuzzi scene.
“Oh I forgot my bathing suit,” said Redin.
Oh gosh, really? There was a brief moment when I wondered if that really mattered.
Louisa makes a vital bikini adjustment.
But just to be safe, Billy suggested a quick dash to the local markets. Bearing in mind we would only see the colour red on screen he returned promptly with a dazzling pair of red speedos. Even more amazing than the colour was the fact that we actually got our model to wear them.
On the beach, we relied on local designer Louisa from Regardez Moi to prepare our red bikinis and beach wear for Polina.
Louisa actually sewed them up the night before. From the passing traffic we stopped her innovations were a big success. Well, that and the 2 hours of footage the cameraman took before he was forced to yell “cut”.
The next day, Polina was due to join us for a shoot on a luxury yacht. Just offshore from the Waterfront project, at Bali Hai, our vessel was neatly bobbing in the water. However the dingy had broken down and while we could see where we had to go, how to get there?
Why not ask a local speedboat operator?
“5000 baht, madam, I take you there!”.
“Oh sure, you want to take me for a 200 meter ride?!”
“Mmmm, let me think…..”
Suddenly a smiling fisherman in a battered wooden vessel appeared at the jetty.
“Hello! I will take you to the big boat for free!”
The thing is, 10 camera crew, two models, three fishermen and an overweight bus driver don’t sit too well in a tiny wooden dingy that’s seen better days. Stress levels were magnified when our Japanese cameraman Sugi admitted halfway across he couldn’t swim.
That meant a turn around to dump several of the crew and then renew the dodgy ride in the battered coffin to our destination – a multi-million baht gleaming white machine. So near and yet so far!
Finally, after a few prayers and some minor screaming fits, we made it. The sky was blue and the seas were rough but I will say the footage looked great, in between 10 minute emergency bathroom breaks for half the team.
From left: Redin Hadzic, Polina Kondratikova and Tulip Group CEO Kobi Elbaz.
Looking back to the Pattaya City sign atop the hill on shore and the site of the Waterfront just below, you can imagine what an amazing spot this would be to live or stay on a holiday.
It’s without a doubt one of the best locations in town for those who want to be on the edge of the city and the sea. The views sweep across Pattaya Bay and by the time the project’s complete this will also be home to Pattaya’s new marina. It will be a boat owner’s dream come true.
Combine that with the management and service of one of the best hotel chains in Europe and it was easy to see why Waterfront was selling quickly.
It was time for us to get moving too.
Back on shore, sea legs shaking, we made our way to the stunning Mantra restaurant for the final scenes.
This involved a surprise ending where we decided our couple should meet up, and then …………… well, you’ll have to watch the film to see.
After all, there’s only so much romance you can handle in paradise.
Suffice to say it was the perfect ending to a few days in a place where anything can happen, where living on the edge is par for the course.