Star-spotting in Bougainville

Published on 21st June 2011

VSA’s Bougainville volunteers and staff had a chance to tour the set and meet some of the cast and crew of Mister Pip on a recent visit to the village of Pidia, where the film is currently being shot.


The group of Arawa-based volunteers, along with Bougainville country programme manager Murray Benbow, travelled to Pidia in the motorised banana boats that will be donated to the village once filming is finished.


The boats were part of a “village deal” Murray helped broker with the villagers last year. His work was important in making sure that filming of Mister Pip – based on the novel by Lloyd Jones and starring British actor Hugh Laurie – took place in Bougainville rather than Solomon Islands,


While they were in Pidia the VSA group saw the church, school room and school master’s house that had been specially built for the film, and watched a beach scene featuring local children being filmed. They also spotted Hugh Laurie and musician Tim Finn, who is composing the music for the film.



The VSA group visiting the set of Mister Pip


Murray says the filming has created a sense of excitement and anticipation in Bougainville.


“I have heard several times people saying that this will show what people really experienced during the conflict,” he says.


The filming, which is scheduled to finish in early July, has provided some unexpected opportunities for VSA volunteers and their partners – including appearing as extras in a scene showing white expats escaping the conflict in Bougainville.  Volunteer Virginia Pycroft has also helped with the production’s finances, while Lindsay Riddick, husband of volunteer Nora Riddick, spent several days working as Hugh Laurie’s “stand-in” before filming began. Rosie Hall, wife of volunteer Dave Hall, has been providing administrative support to the film crew.


Rosie is also busy cataloguing the 500 books which arrived in the container used to transport the film equipment to Bougainville. Rosie is helping set up a library to cater for the wide range of age groups at a local primary school.


“Friends and service groups in New Zealand very generously donated about 500 books for the library, but the cost of postage was a big hurdle in getting them to Bougainville,” she says. “We are really grateful that the film crew were able to bring the books with their equipment.”


Arawa school children examine their new books.


She has already taken some of the books to the school, much to the delight of both pupils and staff.


“They’re thrilled with their developing library.”





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