Just off Lautoka lies Tivua Island, one of the small islands that straddles this side of the Western coast of Viti Levu and this is the location where the UK rock band Status Quo is currently shooting their much anticipated movie.
Status Quo is veteran UK rock group that started making a name for itself in the late 1960s. The band became well known for its own brand of rock music dubbed 'boogie rock' and recorded hits like 'Paper Plane' and 'In the Army Now'. The band has recorded more than 60 chart hits in the UK, with 22 reaching the UK top 10.
When Status Quo finally announced to the world earlier this week that they are shooting a movie project in Fiji, it was said that it set social networking site, Twitter alight. The Status Quo movie project was kept the project hush, hush and under wraps for most of the time, spending the first week of shoot in Fiji in relative isolation.
The Sunday Times was privileged to be part of the shoot where the UK production crew along with their local counterparts led by film production veteran Leo Richmond worked very hard to wrap up some scenes.
Titled Fiji Quo, this is the first ever movie project the band will be attempting and it will feature two members of the band, Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt who will play themselves in this 90 minute action adventure. These veteran rockers have already had acting experience, recording an appearance in the British soap Coronation Street in 2005 and so have been given more screen time in their movie project. This is where they met the man who is directing Fiji Quo, Stuart St Paul who is an accomplished stunt coordinator but have also directed a number of feature films and music videos too.
The movie's associate producer Luke Aikman says they chose to film in Fiji for many reasons.
"Fiji was chosen for two reasons, firstly it is incredibly beautiful. The second is that the government is working hard to ensure that it is an attractive place to film in," Aikman says.
On this particular day, the crew and cast were all taken to Tivua Island on board the Captain Cook Cruises boat, Fiji One to shoot various scenes. There were about 100 people altogether that the boarded the boat at the Denarau Marina. Also included in the cast is the local band The Knox Brotherhood which will also be one of the music groups that will be appearing in the film. Apart from this many of the local cast included men and women from Navoci and Nawaka villages in Nadi.
The villagers will appear as extras and also have minor roles in many scenes of the movie and Aikman says they have just found out how good it is to work with Fijians.
"Fiji's aesthetic beauty is obvious, but more beautiful, the hidden treasure if you like, is the people. I don't think any of us have ever worked in a place and enjoyed working with and interacting with the communities so much. Not only are Fijians a pleasure to be around, but also a pleasure to work with, once it's been established that we can't work in 'Fiji time'," he says.
Aikman explained they chose to shoot the movie just before the floods occurred and after seeing the devastation caused by the floodwaters, went out of their way to help in any way they can.
"We were here to see the flooding and the horrible effects. The tragedy brought to light the positive and hardy nature of Fijian people. Everyone we met was looking up and forward; there is little space for pessimism on this island, and I love that.
"After the floods the (movie) executive held a meeting. We wanted to help. We were going to employ some local people for a scene in the movie and decided that the best way we could help would be to write another scene and increase the number of Fijians we intended to use. We ended up using more than 100 Fijians in the filming. It's not massive, but it certainly helped those who were in need of work and money after the tragedy," Aikman.
He says they took a sevusevu and presented it to a village chief in Nadi who gave them permission and their blessings.
On the addition of local band, The Knox Brotherhood in the movie, Aikman says he overheard one of the band members exclaim they would have loved to jam with Status Quo.
"Those guys are enthusiasts; they just love music. Any opportunity to play, hear others play and share the passion they relish."
Apart from the locals, another internationally acclaimed actor who shot some scenes of Fiji Quo in Fiji is British actor Craig Fairbrass whose film credits included acting opposite Denzel Washington in the movie For Queen and Country and Sylvester Stallone in Cliffhanger.
Other world famous actors that will also feature in the film will be American comedian and singer Jon Lovitz.
Aikman added they have wrapped up the shooting in Fiji already but are looking forward in returning to the country soon.
"We loved it. Many of the crew are already talking about coming back and the producers are, personally I am interested in helping Fiji attain even more attention from the global film community," Aikman says.