News & Updates

30.01.2020 Asia Destination Film Forum

On 30th Jan, the PI attended the 2nd Asia Destination Film Forum in central Bangkok. The event was largely attended by various tourism and film-related industry people, invited cultural organizations and companies working on certain projects related to destination marketing in Southeast Asia. The main sponsor for the event this year is the Mongolian Tourism agency, which had its booth promoting destination for filmmaking. I met a Thai blogger who also works in the filmmaking industry and we discussed amongst us that it would be nice to open this up to more Thais working in related fields, event students! The mood and tone is of an expat industry event with business owers sharing success case studies and on-going projects.


The sessions I managed to attend and found interesting include:

FILMS THAT INSPIRE TRAVELERS: CAMBODIA by Nick Ray

Lonely Planet & Hanuman Films, Cambodia

Since our project started to engage with memories of film tourism in relation to Cambodia particulalry Angkor Wat. I was looking up for a company involved when planning the second visit and found out that Hanuman Films is the people to talk to. Nick told the story of how him and his partner started developing the company following their work with Tomb Raiders, which has openned up the locations in Cambodia to other projects. I really enjoyed watching the film that his wife directed called The Last Reel (2014). The film, like many of contempoary Cambodian movies engages with the subject of memories prior to and the effect of the Khmer Rouge period. Told through the story of a former film star, a cinema owner, the unpacking of past memories and the making of new ones, the film engages with the story of film archive and layers of memories which we're exploring in this project.


TOURISM BOARDS LEVERAGING FILM: BUSAN, SOUTH KOREA by Raymond Kim

Former Advisory Member of the Blue House (ROK)

Chief, Brand 4IR Institute

'Busan authorities and people are crazy for movies' is featured amongst some of the fabulous slides to this talk, which started by Kim rolling himself onto the stage like 007 in his vibrant yellow jacket. The talk covers all dimensions of the push for Busan to be 'the prime filming location in South Korea, resulting in tremendous exposure via Korean movies and dramas'. He highlighted what I also found in the case of cities in Europe with second-tier film festivals, which is creating something new to attract tourists because the city itself was not yet linked to cinema. Kim talked about the creation of film festival, the constuction of the website and lage scale database for film location and also the investment on large scale film studio as part of the expansion of the idea of film city. 


If I have a chance to meet him again, I would like to ask about the process and challenges of bringing different bodies to work together. I guess in the case of South Korea, there is KOFIC to steer the ship and collaborate with local authority? In Thailand this is one of the key challenges as many different parties deal with different parts of film policy. Investers ended up having to talk to many agents to get everything they need or go via a private company to help out (and the company also has to deal with the uncoordinated process of different govenmental bodies). Following the subject in the last coupld of years, I think there has also been no connection between the infastructure/longterm systematic problem-solving to support the growth of the film-travel industry as a whole, as the focus has been on overseas investment incentives.


TOURISM BOARDS LEVERAGING FILM: SINGAPORE by Joe Choo

Area Director, Thailand, Singapore Tourism Board

Ticking  all the boxes that count, Choo shared a very thorough marketing plan that the Singapore Tourism Board took to promote the country tourism from the process of pre- to post-production. The pre-production phase reveals an interesting negotiation to feature iconic sites and map in the early shots of the movie (and the trailer) to make Singapore being remembered and recognizable to audiences. 


This visual queue is very crucial in creating memory of the real locations in connection to the film, instead of offering a blank canvas/invisible reference. The approach they took to 'advertize the hell out' of the film worked extemely well. These include premieres, working with celebrity to promote the film via social media, online articles and posts, and social media monitoring and engagement which further created the desire and idea to travel to Singapore. The talk, similar to that of the South Korea case study, should be recorded and use as case studies as to how a well-planed and well-executed project on cinema, city and tourism could work.


An interview session LEVERAGING A MOVIE TO POSITION A HOTEL: LEBUA AT STATE TOWER with DEEPAK OHRI, CEO, Lebua Hotels & Resorts

It  is really good to learn from this session how the business owner negotiated the presentation of the hotel and their drinks to be recognizable, visible in the film The Hang Over II (2011). On reflection, this is the circumstance of Thailand whereby individual parties make their own effort in creating and maintaining film memories. The state tends to focus on the upstream of inviting new investors to film in the country, the mid-steam negotiation with the filmmaking process to feature the locoation in a particular way, and the downsteam engagement with marketing the location as part of the film's public engagment has yet to be done by the government in a systematic way.


Apart from these talks, it was also nice to say hi to NICHOLAS SIMON, Founder and CEO, Indochina Productions who we invited for a roundtable discussion as part of the project the previous year. Listening to Nic again with his slides, it becomes very clear that the company's niche positioning is in attracting Hollywood investors to film in the region and assisting the filmmaking process all in one.


Bringing research and advocacy and business partners together without loosing sights of our interest in the aesthetic, cinephilic, assemblage of memories and socio-cultural dimensions of cinema and travel is one way this project can grow in the future. What is the best way to bridge interested parties is to be explored.

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