In roughly a fortnight the state agency CzechTourism is launching a new app in for both Czechs and visitors from abroad planning vacations. Entitled, Czech Film Trips, the app will highlight hundreds of locations and feature photos and clips where numerous famous productions were filmed. I spoke to the project manager Jiří Dužár about the product which should be a big success.
"The latest data shows that 40 percent of mobile device users use them for travel tips and for that they need specific apps. I think it clear that apps and mobile devices add something like an extra layer of added enjoyment to peoples' journeys and the experience of traveling. The other thing that people love is to share that experience now as it is happening and that is another reason to use apps on the go. They want to share what a great time they are having with their peers."
The days of traveling to some exotic location and only letting people know when they get back, after they had the developed their pictures are long gone! It's all now immediate on line, on the social networks.
"Absolutely, that instantaneity is the main strength and attraction."
How did the idea for the app Czech Film Trips come about... and what does it offer?
"We began by following some successful examples in other countries - we can't say that film tourism campaigns or digital strategies are our own invention, there are countries that have introduced such campaigns very successfully, such as Great Britain or New Zealand or Scandinavia, also very progressive. They have all developed very interesting film tourism strategies. We noted that the Czech Republic also has a great cinema heritage, with many films known not only to Czech but also to foreign audiences. Every year we also see between 15 - 20 international feature films shot in the Czech Republic, so we said, let's capitalise on this and focus on creating a product to guide film buffs to locations where many of these films were shot."
You mentioned New Zealand - there, the Peter Jackson films (The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit) immediately come to mind. He almost single-handedly transformed the tourism industry there... In Czech Film Trips, did you take advantage, for example, that a film like Miloš Forman's Amadeus was largely shot here in the 1980s?
"Amadeus is one of the most important films to be included in the project. We were very lucky to be able to include it. The film is obviously very well-known, it won eight Oscars, many exteriors were shot in parts of Prague and Kroměříž. And you can visit those areas. The film still has a huge fan base and for us it was a natural choice to include this film."
What about Czech films? I noticed some famous cliff formations were included where some films were shot, or fairy tales. Do you foresee families arriving at places and saying 'Oh yeah, this is where that was shot!' and reciting a line or two...
""That is already something that happens quite a bit already. But the app should make it even easier. There is a wide range of films, many locations and content which are family-friendly or oriented. We cover many fairy tales so people can visit castles and chateaux. We also focus on individual film directors and have some five films by Jiří Menzel, who famously adapted much of Hrabal's work for the screen, including the Academy-award winning Closely Watched Trains. The range is very wide."
Was it tough to get the rights for images or footage?
"We had to secure the rights for every single image or every clip we used. That is one reason it took two years to bring the project - which launched on June 8 - to fruition. We had to negotiate with every copyright holder. In some cases, the negotiations were easier with the collective rights holder, such as the National Film Archive. But, for example, in the case of international productions it was much more difficult. Everyone knows that the first Mission Impossible was shot here or Casino Royale but it was in fact a mission impossible to secure those rights. Many Hollywood productions were shot here but in some cases we had to use alternative images and not the footage."
Part of Hellboy was shot at Vítkov Hill...
"That's right and we do mention that and other international productions even in cases where official or exact imagery could not be used. We provide at least an overview of the different locations."
How does Czech Film Trips fit in the broader strategy employed by Czech Tourism in recent years?
"It has part of our brand positioning and overall campaign called The Czech Republic - Land of Stories. Different aspects of the campaign focused on stories in architecture, historical figures and now film also has its place."
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