If you’ve been checking out my Instagram and Facebook lately, you’ll know I’ve been working on a really exciting, super secret project in Hanoi. While the details are under wraps (for now) I’ve been sharing a little bit of the action through my Insta-stories, casually and subtly dropping hints about what I may or may not be up to, like visiting various gorgeous locations around Hanoi, filming something very special on location. So, I wanted to share with you a few of my favourite behind-the-scenes photos from the past few days of shooting and give you a little look at how it all went down.
We woke up nice and early, jumped in the car and drove a few hours outside of Hanoi to visit the stunning Perfume Pagoda and surrounds. To get there, we hopped aboard these cool little boats and buzzed up the river. We filmed as we went and while I stole a couple of moments of bliss in the sun, one of the chaps from the Tourism Board snapped these shots of me.
This is what was going on behind me!! If you can look past Adrian (left) and Hugo (right) with their cameras on me, you’ll see a chap behind them with a spot of blue polo shirt sticking out from inside his jacket… that’s who took the photos above. Sneaky!
We stopped along the river, floating into this absolutely picture-perfect spot. Seriously, one of those most gorgeous places I’ve seen! They put me in this little boat and the lovely lady who operates it jumped in and paddled me up and down the river while we filmed.
Meanwhile…. this was going on in front of me. Check out Hugo’s dedication! He’s pretty much in the water, hanging off the back of that very tiny boat. If you saw him in real life, he’s a big Hong Kong teddy bear! It’s amazing that he’s scrunched down that small in the back of that tiny boat. The camera he’s holding actually goes in the water at one point (not on purpose!) and I screamed because I know how much $$$ that thing is worth.
Back in Hanoi, on the third and final day of the shoot, we found a local scooter taxi guy and they threw me on the back of it. We buzzed around, cutting laps, while the crew filmed. I love the shot of Hugo ridin dirty on the back of the scooter haha!…. Sons of Anarchy: Hanoi Edition
A couple of pretty shots I managed to get in-between shooting here, near the Perfume Pagoda. We’d just finished eating lunch and the sun had finally come out, we ran up to get the shot we needed while there were no tourists around.
This lovely man buzzed me around Hoan Kiem Lake on his tricycle while we filmed. He was so funny and, while I don’t speak any Vietnamese, he still managed to show me some great sights and made me laugh a lot. He was full of energy and so sweet, I had to get a photo with him.
While I was cycling around with my new friend above, THIS was happening. We were going sooooo slow to make sure we got the shot, that the traffic banked up behind us at one point, horns honking, people buzzing past on scooters. All the people strolling around the lake were staring at us too. I just had to block them out and focus on having a good time! I love the photo on the left, it cracks me up. That’s Hugo making sure he gets the shot and our local ‘Fixer’, Andy, on the phone getting instruction from director Adrian.
I did a lot of slow, dramatic walking in some gorgeous places…. including these two spots!
We also shot here, at this stunning red bridge over Hoan Kiem Lake in the heart of Hanoi. We’d tried to shoot here on day one but there were so many tourists visiting too, it was impossible to get an uncrowded shot. After a super early (5:30am!) start one day, we stopped by here and, thanks to Andy and a Tourism Board official greasing the wheels of Bureaucracy, we were able to slip inside the gates just before opening time and get what we needed.
Our last day of shooting took us here, to a village a little while outside of Hanoi, maybe 45 minutes or so. While we were waiting for the water puppet show to start and while I was waiting for inevitable gastro to set in after eating a terrifying meal at a roadside restaurant, complete with crispy bug found in my meal, we snapped this photo.
Shoot director, Adrian, took this photo for me on day one of the shoot. I was really nervous, buzzing with excitement and desperately trying to stop my overthinking, perfectionist brain from running overtime. I was so focused on making sure I did a good job, that I wasn’t relaxing and enjoying myself. But Adrian, Hugo and Hillian (the Producer), being the professionals they are, put me at ease immediately and in no time at all I was relaxed, having fun and getting great shots.
We all worked really hard, making sure we got everything needed for the shoot. The days were tiring at times, but always with a great energy that was fun, relaxed and collaborative. I learned a lot in a very few short days, met some incredible people and saw some amazing things in the process. A few years ago this would have felt like an impossible dream to me, but now it’s a reality and I’m so thankful for it! If there’s anyone out there who feels like their dreams are too big or unachievable, I’m here to tell you they aren’t. Go after what you want in life, because anything is possible. A huge thanks to Adrian, Hugo, Hillian and Andy, as well as everyone at Hanoi Tourism who helped us.
P.S If you don’t already, be sure to follow me on Instagram. I share loads of behind-the-scenes stuff through my Insta-Stories! Just click the follow button on the top right of my Instagram post….
** UPDATE ** My secret project is here!! I filmed two television commercials for Hanoi Tourism and CNN. They’re being aired globally, broadcast to millions! I gotta tell ya, when I quit my job a few years ago I’d hoped for opportunities like this one but never really thought it was possible. I’m so thankful. I’d love to know which one of the two TVC’s is your favourite, so watch em both and lemme know what ya think. All love and credit to the amazing team at Propagandeur – Adrian, Hillian and Hugo, who filmed, edited and did all the many other things involved in creating these awesome TVC’s. A huge thank you also to Hanoi Tourism, Vietnam Tourism and CNN.
Phoebe Lee is a travel writer and award-winning blogger with a love for storytelling. Phoebe creates practical, fun and engaging written content designed to inspire and energise travel-lovers and dreamers. Follow her and Matt’s adventures at home and around the world, right here on Little Grey Box and through Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.