Why this travel blogger is visiting iconic filming locations
Travel has a different purpose for different people. For some, it’s about unwinding; for others, it’s about the thrill of adventure. For Germany-born travel blogger Andrea David, it’s almost an anthropological exercise. David, 42, who studied tourism management in Munich, travels to locations where most popular film and television scenes were shot. The ‘Photo in Photo’ project superimposes the picture of an iconic scene on the real location, creating a nostalgic experience for film buffs. In an interview with WKND, David talks about why film tourism is important, and what being at home in the aftermath of the pandemic has taught her.
What got you interested in film tourism?
I’ve always been a film buff and when I studied tourism management in Munich, I decided to write my diploma thesis about the influence of films on where we choose to travel, combining my love of cinematography and film with my background as a former travel agent. While doing research in 2004, I gained a taste of it and started travelling to various filming locations. After my thesis, I continued travelling this way because I really enjoyed it. Then, in 2007, I decided to share my experiences and adventures with other people who may have been interested. A lot of people wrote to me saying they were grateful because they finally knew if and where they could find their places of longing or just received great new travel ideas. This motivated me to continue. Meanwhile, numerous users (150,000 per month) on my travel blog Filmtourismus.de and about 780,000 followers on Instagram are getting inspired for their own journeys following the trail of movies and TV series. Since 2014, writing about filming locations has been my full-time job.
How I started the photo project… Well, it’s easier to ask local people about filming locations when you can show them the specific scenes. So, I’ve always carried some printed pictures of the filming scenes with me.
Once in Cambodia at a Tomb Raider: Lara Croft location over six years ago, I thought it would be fun to try to align the image with its real background to merge fiction and reality in one photo.
What does the process of tracking down the exact film location entail? Which spot has been the toughest for you to locate?
When I’m lucky, I get some information about the filming locations from tourism boards or the production companies in advance. But often, it is really like doing detective work: comparing film stills with Google Streetview or showing them to residents and tour guides while travelling. Also, some readers and followers help me from time to time with addresses and coordinates.
Which has been your favourite film location thus far?
That’s hard to choose as I have lots of great memories associated with each location. But the Monument Valley in Utah and Wadi Rum in Jordan are definitely among my favourite filming locations as these landscapes are so stunning, iconic and otherworldly.
How do various locations typically benefit when they are featured in a film?
A lot of film locations benefit from rising number of tourists even after decades as their presence in a film only manages to bring them attention and popularity.
How do you feel when you manage to locate the exact spot where a scene was shot?
It’s a magical feeling, because at first, I’m happy to see these places actually exist and then it’s a little bit like diving into the movie’s world. I feel I am in between fiction and reality.
Has Covid-19 proven to be a hindrance to your travels?
I have had to cancel almost every originally planned trip and lots of new movies haven’t been released either. So, this year forced me to be flexible and spontaneous.
In spring, I initiated a home challenge to combine film scenes with your own apartment. Seeing the results from many followers who joined the #filmtourismathome challenge was big fun. I’m happy I was able to travel to Norway and Italy this year, and it was my very first time visiting Venice. I’m very thankful for the places I’ve been to, especially now being at home, probably for several months. Instead of travelling I write articles for my own blog or other travel media.