If You Build it They Will Come… So Why Wouldn’t You?

A Look at the Benefits of Film Tourism for Tourists and Locations
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Introduction
A not so new phenomenon in the film industry has been trending within the past two decades. This trend is film tourism. With film driving a significant portion of the tourism market today, little discourse and information is available on the subject, yet many countries generate millions of dollars.

As a filmmaker, studier, or entrepreneur I call on YOU to be informed of film tourism and use your new industry knowledge to capitalize on a booming industry

The film and tourist industries struggle to define and capitalize on it while scholars attempt to contextualize its impact on society.

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A very basic definition that is mutually agreed upon is tourism that includes visits to film sets, locations or imagined locations. This trend is taking precedence as many tourism boards are looking to cultivate similar relationships with large franchises such as Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings, and Twilight and the locations they support.

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The Tourist
Previous to the writings of Peter Bolan, film induced tourism did not address the critical aspect of displacement theory. He claims that authenticity is key to tourists. Anne Buchmann furthers this idea to say that film tourists travel to authenticate themselves in an alternate social reality, like participants in a Renaissance Fair. It is important to remember that the key difference of film tourists to carnival role players, is that it is important to them that the alternate reality have a fixed geographical location.

Aside from the location intended to be portrayed, the fixed location can include visits to a movie studio and visits to a film/tv theme park or even another real place that was used as the intended location. Sometimes a real location (New Zealand country side) can be a “body double” for an imagined location (The Shire) (Connell).

Understanding the motivation behind film tourists is also essential to both the tourists and the locations looking to lure them in. Motivation in film tourism is described as push and pull factors (Mijalce).

Push Factors
-fantasy
-escape
-status
-prestige
-search for self-identity
-ego enhancement
-vicarious experience

Pull Factors
-place
-personality
-performance

The intensity of these factors classify tourists into three categories

The Serendipitous
Happens to be in a location portrayed on film

The General
Participates in activities having to do with the film but does not journey to the location just for participation in film activities

The Specific
They pilgrimage to the location for self-actualization

The Locations

The location should look at a film as an investment. Tourism boards can estimate (based on celebrity presence and budget) the success of a film and offer tax incentives accordingly to a production. By helping out the film the location may immediately help the economy by creating specialized jobs in the area, not to mention the influx of cast and crew accommodation costs that will contribute to local hotels and restaurants.

In return the film can further capitalize on film tourism. New Zealand is still generating revenue from the LOTR Trilogy (Go Ahead! Click on LOTR). Britain saw an increase in tourism by 50% after the Harry Potter Films (Hudson) and Forks, Washington has many articles still creating buzz on the real life “Twilight Experience.”

Each of these sites displays the propensity at which film is marketed to promote tourism. It is not only on the website. It is the website.

Conclusion

More than anything film tourism needs discourse. It is happening more and more. It is a social act as well as a personal act and more importantly it is a hugely profitable act. Tourists pilgrimage just to see if what the saw virtually is to whatever extent true.

Works Cited
Bolan, Peter, Stephen Boy, and Jim Bell. ”We’ve Seen it in the Movies Let’s See If It’s True’: Authenticity and Displacement in Film-induced Tourism.” Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes 1 (2): n.page. Web. 26 Nov. 2012.
Buchmann, Anne, Kevin Moore, and David Fisher. “Experiencing Film Tourism. Authenticity & Fellowship.” Annals of Tourism Research 37 (1): 229- 248. Web. 26 Nov. 2012.
Connell, Joanne. “Progress in Tourism Management: Film Tourism- Evolution, Progress, and Prospects.” Tourism Management 33(5): 1007-1029. Web. 26 Nov. 2012.
Gjorgievski, Mijalce, and Sinolicka Melles Trpkova. “Movie Induced Tourism: A New Tourism Phenomenon.” Journal of Economics 3 (1): p 97-104. Web. 26 Nov.
2012.

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Film Outreach

Every year Tower of Youth hosts an education day at various colleges to empower teens to creatively express themselves through digital media. The program seeks to boost media literacy and is a boot camp of sorts aimed at the encouraging young adults in the media arts. Teens are paired with certified film, broadcast, and web gurus and get to share their accomplishments with industry insiders. Dodge College of Film and Media arts hosts a program in early October and is not to be missed.

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Tower of Youth

Drawing Swords

20121028-233453.jpgRecently I saw the Chinese film Hero. In the film the two main characters made a strong connection between the art of calligraphy and the skill of sword play. They said that each warrior’s calligraphy revealed what kind of swordsman they were. Jet Lee’s character, who called himself Nameless in the movie, said by having his enemy to draw him a character he could study his style of fighting and predict his movements.

This got me to thinking how close the written word is influenced by our personality or vice versa. At a calligraphy event two artists with thirty years of experience each in the industry also revealed to me a lot about their personalities through their art work. They drew before they talked and what I inferred through their drawings seemed linked with their personalities.

Lisa used untraditional letters with bright colors and did not mind overlapping letters or drawing very interpretive characters. When she spoke she was very talkative and said that she liked learning the rules so that she could break them. The vividness of her colors revealed her outspoken self before she said anything. Barbara on the other hand was much more reserved and her letters were more the traditional gothic style.

I think an interesting experiment would have been to put both behind a screen, show the drawings to the audience, and then have them guess which easel belonged to which artists. I bet the audience would guess correctly. The written word reveals as much about personality as the clothes a person wears.

Although the advances in technology have allowed artists to replicate the handwritten word, new technology does not allow for the same experience or product of the handwritten-non-digital mediums that a brush delivers on paper or fabric. I doubt that Nameless would have been able to infer the same amount of information by watching his enemy type.

Typing delivers consistency while the brush is susceptible to human folly. The digital medium corrects for the human hand, while the physical allows for defects. The defects in turn reveal variance. The variance reveals the character.

If the writing is sloppy perhaps the writer is writing quickly because they are worried or excited. If the letters have a lot of flair maybe the person is very calm and patient since such embellishment takes time. If the writing is small maybe the person is not very confident.

There is as much to be said as to how a person writes as there is to what they write much like a public speaker is aware that how their message is said is as important as what they say. Handwriting is the tone of the message. Nameless is also aware that how a man draws his words reveals a lot about how he will draw his sword.

My First Blog Narrative

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Last spring I studied abroad in Cannes, France for an internship at the festival parallel, the Marche du Film. I thought I would be indulging my inner cinephile as well as my inner foodie in France. I expected to be marveled every night at dinner by the country that is famed as the culinary capital of the world, but sadly I had the exact opposite experience. I saw many beautiful and engaging films in France, but I was completely disappointed in the culinary realm of my travel.

To save money I invested in a meal plan at the college cafeteria. The school let students eat for one week to decide if they liked the food before it was too late to back out of the nonrefundable meal plan for the semester. The food was not excellent but it was satisfying.

As soon as the week was up, the quality of the food changed drastically. I am not a picky eater and I am certain that my American tuned taste buds were not just being fussy. This food was downright disgusting.

They started serving pieces of lime wrapped in smelly fish skins at the salad bar, burgers covered in green soup for the main course, and moldy strawberries for dessert. The first night this happened my friends and I just got up and walked to a twenty-four hour restaurant, called “Funny Food,” that served shwarmas, pasta, baguettes, and beer. The next day we were served questionably edible food at lunch and then again at dinner. We decided to hit the town again. Cannes is a very wealthy area and a “cheap” meal could easily cost fourteen dollars with the exchange rate playing against you.

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Collectively, we realized we could not afford to go out every week, let alone twice a day. We returned to the cafeteria disheartened. To cope with this we created a system. One of us grabs a bottle of balsamic vinegar, one a bottle of olive oil; one grabs a baguette, and the other little packets of butter. The other two would save seats at a table. Over the next month, all six of us began to put on weight from the bread yet we were constantly feeling hungry and sluggish. Obviously, something had to change.

The next night at dinner we decided to give the food another chance. We were feeling pretty inspired until a meal arrived at our table that we affectionately came to refer to as “Chish.” Essentially, chish is fish that smells like chicken and is bathed in a honey glaze. We were about to abandon our table once more when we noticed our friend, Rich, digging in to his chish and mushy vegetables. Incredulous, we asked him how he was doing it. He replied, “I don’t think about what it is. I just open my mouth and chew.”

“I Just Open My Mouth and Chew”

Maybe it was the malnutrition talking, but we all thought this was hilarious and we sat back down and all began to open and chew. As a coping mechanism we all began to try and best each other with jokes about the food (this is when the word chish was born). This became our nightly tradition. We enjoyed the food rants and jokes so much that we immortalized them in the form of a blog. We called it Open and Chew. It was, “A genuine down to earth blog about the worst French food you could possibly eat.”

We did not solicit that the blog existed, but eventually people would come up to our table and request that their comments be added as well. The vegetarian community at the college was especially vocal that we air their grievances. It seemed like all the American students at the college were having a great time reading the blog and were excited to add their comments as well. We added a Post Anything section and encouraged people to send in their own pictures. Everyone seemed to be having a great time contributing. Then the witch-hunt began.

One Tuesday afternoon, all the American students were called into the cafeteria for a meeting. The director of the college and the head stewardess stood by the door scanning each of our faces as we filed in. Very seriously, the director, in French and some broken English, explained that he knew the existence of a food blog that “defamed” the school’s kitchen. It seemed inappropriate to laugh, but I could tell everyone was trying hard not to. It seemed impossible to deprecate the image of the cafeteria more than it had already done to itself. Those responsible parties were asked to cease and desist the blog and turn themselves in.

My friends and I looked at each other. Sure we had created a blog, but this blog belonged to everybody now. We were an online community. Being surrounded by the festival mania, I started likening our blog followers to that of a film audience. Can one person be responsible for the audience response to a film? Were we solely responsible for the damage this blog could possibly do? Is a slasher film responsible for an unstable person’s deadly actions? Surely we were not the only contributors. We were the directors of a production aided by many hands. We would have been just as happy in our anonymity as we were in our small fame. We did not advertise or call for rebellion. The meeting ended with no responsibility accounted for.

We began to see the blog shift from an entertaining medium to that of a tool. In a way we were documentarist showing the truth through our own bias. The blog uses actual pictures of the food served. If they served rotten vegetables then why is it wrong to post pictures of them? Sure we did not produce anything close to the shock wave Michael Moore would have enjoyed, but the meeting showed us that we had people’s attention and thus the first step towards change. We wanted the cafeteria to feel accountable for the product they were producing.

The school should feel like they cheated us. After all they proved that they knew quality food. They had enticed us the first week of the meal plan. As soon as they received the money they slacked off. We justified our actions by comparing the cafeteria to a business. If a company allows a free trial of a product and then swaps out the working product for a broken one after the warranty is done, then the consumer has every right to voice their opinions of the company. The school claimed that the blog made the food look unappetizing to potential students who might have purchased a meal plan. We thought that was fair, so the blog continued.

Once again the school sought the creators out. We took down the most disgusting pictures (including when they fed us bone marrow and half the cafeteria left) and we deleted many purely negative comments. As filmmakers, the group was thankful that the nature of the blog, unlike film, allows for cheap and easy editing. We were constrained by the fact that we could no longer post comments that could be directly linked to individuals. Something that had started out to be purely for fun became strategic. We started to comment on food that we liked, hoping that the school would catch on.

At first they punished us. They served, if possible, more disgusting food and refused seconds on the good meals to those suspected of creating the blog. This continued for about a week. The dissent grew openly and finally the school gave up trying to attack the blog. They started serving in the same manner they had the first week.

20121018-152413.jpg🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 :):) 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t fish skin wrapped limes either. To this day I like to think the cafeteria is serving good, if not at least mediocre, food because of the efforts of our blog. Our counter-attack to the cafeteria’s attack on our taste buds was very easy to orchestrate in comparison to a film.

First and foremost, the blog was free, no sponsored even, by the coffee shop,Cafe Pico , across the street from the school who donated expressos and Wi-Fi. Second, any member with a password could post without any other member. Unlike a film, nobody really needed to coordinate, but if they so choose they could read the earlier entries. Thirdly, we did not need to produce a whole product to get a reaction from the audience. We could edit content and change focus as quickly as we wished instead of going to a primer to see if we were well received. Lastly, we controlled our persona. I preferred to stay anonymous, a preference not as well respected as a director of a film.

The creation of the blog made me hope for the future of documentary film. If documentarist shaped their findings in video Vlogs they may be able to save time and money which will enable them spread their message while it is still prevalent. A feedback section will also enable real time comments and can help the documentary find a clearer focus and deeper resonance with the audience. I do not see the Vlog being just as advantageous for feature fiction films because I believe the fiction feature blog already exist in the form of a television series. The feedback are, of course, the ratings.

The semester abroad turned out to be disappointing in the culinary arts, but enlightened me to the exciting future blogs hold for various industries, especially film. The blog and film share a visual media link and have both been used for social change. I imagine that when combined the two mediums will blur the line between each other and become a very powerful tool.

The Auteur

I hope that this blog so far has given you the reader a good sense of what my goal is for the blog. Now I wish to give you a context for this goal by explaining myself, the blogger. The two most motivating factors for the type of blog I chose are my love of traveling and my love of the film industry.

As stated in the Extended About Section I have been to two international film festivals so far and I am leaving for the third this week. I am going to the Busan International Film Festival. I have never been to Asia before.

I think film offers an icebreaker of sorts to a new culture. The visual nature of film allows people who speak different languages to understand shared human feelings. It is not just the films themselves that connect people. At the international festivals, the host country welcomes artists from around the world much like The Olympics welcomes athletes from around the world. In my experience the most prominent festivals (such as Cannes) are held in relatively quite cities that explode at the onrush of new visitors. All of a sudden there is a nightlife and street food and welcome drinks to any passerby in the festival perimeter.

As someone who has not graduated college yet and has been to over 15 different countries, I feel that my world travel is already very substantial but I always have my bags packed and ready for the next big adventure.

I hope you the reader will join me in my quest for world film appreciation.