Your fellow reader Miriam wrote in to ask about attracting filmmakers to her town.
I am designing a website for a small town in Texas that apparently was used as a location for some small films years and years ago. They are designing a new website for the town and thought it might be fun to put something on the homepage that would “attract” film makers and remind filmmakers that the town is available if anyone would like to film there! So I was looking for any municipal websites that might have this sort of “marketing” element on their websites – for ideas about graphics or how to present it, what topics to use etc.
Can you think of any towns that have anything like that on their websites or where I might go to find examples like that? (or maybe a list of websites for places that promote themselves as “on location” destinations?) Thank you!
I passed the question along to Sheila Scarborough and Leslie McLellan at Tourism Currents, the tourism experts and friends of rural. They put together some excellent tips on How to be a film friendly destination.
One great example of a small town website with a film-friendly page is Greenville, Texas.
Capitalize on movie fan tourists
One aspect that Miriam didn’t mention is promoting tourism for fans of those old films that were shot in the area. No matter how long ago it was or how obscure the movie is, make sure to get information about your past film history online. You never know who might be interested in visiting your community because of that old movie.
When I was a kid, I remember the movie Tender Mercies with Robert Duvall filming in and around my part of Texas. Here’s the Internet Movie Database entry for Tender Mercies that lists filming locations Palmer and Waxahachie, Texas. That IMDB entry wouldn’t be enough for a fan to find the filming locations, though. Long time locals will remember the curve in the road where some exterior sets were built and the exact section of I-45 where the Prayer Stop used to be. What’s more, a local landowner told me about a lesser-known movie The House of the Generals that filmed in the area. It’s IMDB entry doesn’t even list Palmer.
That means you can’t count on IMDB or any other site to do the movie tourism promotion for you. It’s up to you to use your online tools. Add a page to your existing website, write a blog post or share a few photos and videos with film location information. Do some searching to see what information is already out there and add to it.
I love the approach Explore Georgia took with its article on Track Down Georgia Film Locations Like a Famous Photographer. Follow the advice in the article to find the exact spots and views that were used in the movie to make it easy for fans to follow.
If any film any time was filmed near you, write it up and share it online.
Video game tourists are next
Movie fans aren’t the only ones who might travel. Video game fans spend hours immersed in virtual landscapes and scenes, some based on real world places.
Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed game series has used actual historic settings. In recent editions, they added a special mode called Discovery Tour so players can take more relaxed virtual tours of ancient Egypt, Greece and Ireland. Tourism Ireland partnered with Ubisoft to use the game as a marketing opportunity for real life visitors to actual locations in Ireland.
As more colleges, universities and even maker spaces are supporting video game production, there’s an opportunity to reach out and get your location featured virtually.
And if you hear of a video game that includes a location near you, promote it.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.