MovieScope Magazine has just released my latest article on Film Tourism and its potential as a film funding resource for filmmakers:
The good news is that it could result in access to more funding and other marketing resources for films that showcase a particular location. We’re already starting to see examples of this: Israel’s tourism ministry, for example, reportedly invested $8m in the romcom The Old Cinderella, starring Chinese actress Zhang Jingchu, which shot in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. And Botswana Tourism invested $5m in the HBO/BBC series The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, which shot in and around Gaborone in 2009
The bad news, however, is that — unlike film incentives or tax credit programmes that are based on clear and easily discernible formulas and rules—tourism offices and destination management organisations aren’t set up to hand over cash to filmmakers. There’s no simple calculation that says, ‘if you pay me X, my movie will create Y tourists and Z economic value’. In a nutshell, that means if you want tourism cash, then you’re likely going to have to work hard for it.
I feel like I’ve had a treat of a movie weekend, and if anything, we saved the best til last, wrapping up with Alexander Payne’s quite, quite brilliant The Descendants. George Clooney – just on top form – is Matt King, an overworked lawyer and descendant of one of the 1860 missionaries who won vast tracts of land from the Hawaiians. King has been neglecting his family whilst negotiating a massive land-deal for a huge slab of coastal land over which he is the only trustee. In the middle of the negotiations, his wayward wife is injured in a boating accident, and he’s forced to round up his daughters and try to keep the family in one piece as his own life collapses around him.
It’s – I’ll say it again – a brilliant film, the kind of film that sits with you afterwards, so well is it made, so honest are the emotions, so true the performances. It’s neither mawkish nor maudlin, and the gentle re-connection between George and his daughters (the eldest is fantastic) is just marvellous. It’s kind of a perfect film. Hawaii is front and centre too – it’s history, its characters, its magnificent landscapes. (hat tip to Jerry Garrett’s blog on finding the real-life bay Matt King’s trying to sell.) Fantastic too is the use of Hawaiian music throughout – Payne skipped an orchestral score altogether and illuminated the script instead with recordings of some of the best Hawaiian artists. It’s an aural treat.
In the winter of 1864, Abraham Lincoln had just routed the Democrats and been elected for a second term as President of the United States of America. During his first term, facing the rebellion of the Secessionist States of the South, Lincoln had used War Time emergency powers to abolish slavery. Though a committed abolitionist himself, Lincoln’s political argument to war-shy Northerners was that the South would crumble and the war would end quickly if it was deprived of its four million strong enslaved workforce. However, Lincoln also knew that such a unilateral war-time declaration might not hold up legally after the war was ended. And thus he determined that the only way to ensure that slavery would never return was to call for an Amendment to the Constitution of the United States – it’s Thirteenth – which would abolish slavery once and for all.
The problem for Lincoln was two-fold. Firstly, the war with rebels in the South had recently turned in favour of the North, and with their people starving and their military supplies running out, moves were afoot by the Confederates to sue for peace and re-join the Union. If that happened before the Amendment passed, Lincoln knew popular support for an amendment would fall away entirely. And secondly, while Northerners had no love for slavery as an institution, there was by no means any common agreement that black folks should be considered equal with white folks. Abolition of the slavery was seen as the “slippery slope” harbinger of things considered abhorrent; mixed marriages, universal suffrage, equality.
So, Ladies and Gentlemen, this is sort of how it all fits together: In 1996, for the Atlanta Olympics, a beach volleyball venue was built just outside the city, in Clayton County. Since the games, and in particular since the recession, this county has been hit particularly hard economically – it’s reeling from foreclosures, has the highest unemployment rate in the 10-county metro area at 11.8%. Yet, buoyed by competitive incentive programs, here comes the film industry to throw a lifeline:
in the two years since the county opened a film and entertainment office….. movies, television shows, commercials and other film production have created 100 permanent county jobs and injected between $5 million and $10 million into the economy
The latest news is that Catching Fire, the much-heralded sequel to The Hunger Games, will be filming in Clayton County, re-purposing the sad old volleyball pitch into the beach that’s the pivotal arena for the 75th Hunger Games.
The park is being transformed into a post-apocalyptic setting for the movie, which is based on a book about children forced to fight to the death for food. Clayton County will be paid $80,000 in the deal it reached with Project GGX Productions Inc., according to documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Additionally, off-duty Clayton police officers will earn $45 an hour for security, and a Clayton County Water Authority worker will be paid $75 an hour to drain and refill the park’s lake.
The wild success of The Hunger Games is proving to be a runaway opportunity for tourism in North Carolina. Fans are already showing up on locations ranging from forests to abandoned factory towns, with tour companies offering re-enactments, survival skills lessons, zip line excursions and hotel packages. Full story here: Hunger Games Film Tourism
In another Film Tourism link – the producer of Paranormal Activity, Jason Blum, is moving on to actual haunted houses. Blum has announced plans for The Blumhouse of Horrors, a Halloween attraction in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Blum’s production company is currently at work turning the historic Variety Arts Theater in Downtown LA into a rundown vaudeville venue with some deep, dark secrets. Expect queues round the block soon.
PETERSBURG – The area will soon be promoting a new part of the region’s history that is tied to the upcoming release of the major motion picture “Lincoln,” which was filmed in Petersburg and the Richmond area.
Recently, the state awarded a tourism grant that will help promote President Abraham Lincoln’s final days in the Petersburg area. The Virginia Tourism Corp. awarded Petersburg Area Regional Tourism a $25,000 grant from its Marketing Leverage Grant Fund program for the “Walk in Lincoln’s Final Footsteps” initiative….
Sometimes going to a movie just isn’t enough. After the release of “The Twilight Saga,” the little town of Forks, Washington, the setting of the books that inspired the movie, was “completely taken by storm” according to Martin Cuff, executive director of the Association of Film Commissioners International. The economic impact, he says, “was completely outrageous.” How outrageous, exactly? The number of night stays at hotels alone increased by 1,000%, according to Cuff.