• In researching film tours, you are likely to come across tours clearly not sanctioned by the copyright owner, the studio, or the filmmaker. This is tricky business, and particularly as a film commission office you must be mindful of the intellectual property rights and avoiding violations of such rights. Engaging early on with the film company and proposing a partnership upon release of the film is the best way to approach the situation.
• There will be times when a film or television program will be based on a real-life event or a story in the public domain. In this situation, you will need to avoid film-specific footage and replication of design elements created by the filmmakers. But there can be non-film specific marketing, exhibits and tours that will not have legal ramifications.
Tourism offices, operators and travel agents will tell you that there are few things as bad as an unhappy or disappointed tourist.
What can go wrong? Remember: film tourism is usually recreating the atmosphere or environment of a fantasy. Even if the story is true, the making of a film is fantastical by nature. If a tourist believes that by visiting the place of the story or film, that he or she will be transported somehow, there is an inherent expectation that needs to be met, to some degree. A self-guided tour with a film map is the least worrisome in this regard and can be employed with the least amount of risk. An example of a disastrous film tour would be one based on a film created wholly or primarily by visual effects. Taking a tourist to an open field that was the live-action setting for a visual effect will most likely end in major disappointment if not handled properly.
The major studios are experts at creating experiences of films such as Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, King Kong, Transformers, Indiana Jones, and many others. These are turned into rides, stunt shows, trams or boat excursions on studio lots and theme parks around the world. We obviously cannot compete at this level but instead can maximize our inherent advantage of offering the “on location” experience in the real world.