Traveling is a passion. And Andrea David is an expert on that. The German tourism pro combined her love for touring the world and the fantastic world of cinema to create her own blog about shooting locations: Filmtourismus. A talk about the art of traveling and why London is always a good idea.
Hunting Bond: Filmtourismus is over ten years old – how did you come up with the idea in a time when blogging was not a big thing like it is nowadays?
Andrea David: I came across the subject of traveling to movie locations while touring around Scotland. During our road trip we saw settings from “Braveheart”, “Highlander” and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” and for the first time I understood the attraction of traveling to the places you know already from screen.
Finishing my study in tourism in Munich I therefore wanted to research the bearing of movies and series on the destination’s choice. With the surprising wealth of examples and being a movie fan myself I developed a taste for it pretty fast. In the course of time I collected so much information through my researches and travels that I wanted to share the knowledge online with other film enthusiasts. This is how I created a – then small – German databank: www.filmtourismus.de. It continued to grow and until today includes information on more than 400 movies and series locations world wide.
Movies and traveling are two incredible commercial things. Is it even possible to travel “off the beaten path” today?
It indeed became very difficult to detect real insider tips. But production teams are always looking for “unused” spots and therefore new suggestions for one’s own travels are constantly coming up. While looking for specific locations I very often come across hidden areas and neighborhoods. As a movie tourist you often see “more” than other tourists anyway. For some people it’s just a common place – but for you it turns into a sight due to its special role in movie or series. It depends on the perspective.
What should every traveler bear in mind while traveling off the beaten path?
The most important is to respect the privacy of other people. For example when the movie setting is actually private property. Then you shouldn’t just walk in and ring the bell. Sometimes the people themselves don’t even know that they are living in or near a location. Reluctance never does any harm. But when you’re lucky, every now and then the residents tell you funny anecdotes about the shooting.
You said in your interview with the German TV station NDR that traveling gives you the opportunity to explore a place in a different way. Can you explain that further?
I find it exciting that places, which have been in a movie, have suddenly a very intense effect. A place, which is connected to a certain story, just has a special meaning and attraction. It doesn’t matter whether the story is true or not. Tony Reeves, the author of a movie guide, described shooting locations as “historical sites of the modern era”. I think that’s pretty appropriate.
Ruins turn into mystical places, common places become crime scenes or settings for romance. Some simple concrete stairs in Philadelphia became an icon to achieve everything due to the movie “Rocky” – and are today one of the main attractions of the city. Looking through the “location glass”, a place appears in a different light and the “like in the movie”-feeling sets in.
But how do you verify a movie or TV location?
When I’m lucky I get detailed information by the tourism board or the production team. But very often it’s detective work: I compare movie stills with Google Streetview or question people there with my pictures in hand. Kindly, very often readers send me information or pictures of individual filming locations.
Is it a personal preference which movie or TV serial you’re going to feature on your blog?
Almost all my travels are based on personal preference. But when I’m on-site, I explore other locations I’m not so much interested in myself as well, when they have a big fan base. I use it as an opportunity to give interesting news to as many readers as possible.
The hometown of James Bond is undeniably London and it is also one of your favorite cities. Apart from the various movie locations to visit there: What are great things to do and see there?
When in London I love just to take a walk and let the city work its magic. You pass famous filming locations almost inevitably anyway. My favorite neighborhood is Notting Hill, apart from the market there are many beautiful shops and restaurants. And I just love the houses! If I could afford it, I would probably live there. :)
You’ve already been to more than fifty countries and hundreds of places – which is your favorite location?
I get that question a lot, even though its one of the most difficult. With every new travel I collect new favorite places, so that I could name hundreds by now. Jordan, Thailand, Montana, North Carolina, Iceland and Scotland definitely made it into my personal top ten. Among the cities are New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London and Rome. I can not go there often enough. With every movie you see the same city from a different perspective. And as a “Game of Thrones” fan I rank the filming locations of the series among my highlights.
And which location was the most disappointing?
There weren’t much disappointments so far, because due to my extensive research beforehand I pretty much know what to expect and what not. But in Malaysia I stood in front of a remote temple from “Anna and the King” in which – according to the travel guide – an extensive exhibition about the film should be. In reality the temple was a abandoned ruin.
What’s next on your bucket list?
My next big movie travel in June leads me again to the USA. I’m an avid “Walking Dead“-lover, therefore I planned a trip to Georgia for quite some time. Over there they celebrate the “Year of Film” this summer, so that I use it as an opportunity to visit several filming locations from “The Hunger Games“, “Forrest Gump” and “Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Cafe” as well.
Which movies (or TV serials) are your must-sees for this year? And which are classics every movie buff has to watch?
I’m really excited about the sequel of “Game of Thrones” this summer, but currently I love watching “House of Cards” and “The 100“. My cinematic highlight this year will definitely be “Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi“. An all time favorite of mine is the “Back to the future”-trilogy. I can watch it again and again without being bored for a minute.
Thank you for your time, Andrea!
© All: Andrea David // Filmtourismus.de
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