My Love of Film Tourism

Ian Brodie · May 11, 2017 · On Set · 0 comments

The medium of film creates a lasting impression with the viewer. Scenes of passion, action or landscapes spark an emotion that lasts much longer than the film itself. To quote one of the most imaginative directors of last century, Stanley Kubrick: The screen is a magic medium. It has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can hope to tackle. The inter-relationship between the imagination of film and the reality of landscape is an interesting mix. Although a director can call on any form of computer-generation to create a world, the basis of the creation is nearly always the tangibility of a real landscape. I have always loved photography and film. My passion for film tourism was initially inspired by Zabriskie Point. When I saw that film I just wanted to go there, and photograph it myself. Film tourism is one of the largest single motivators for travellers but, everybody has different sources of inspiration. Some see a film and might like to visit the place generically; others want to stand under the same tree!

When I was 14 I read The Lord of the Rings and I couldn’t put the book down. When I discovered that New Zealand was going to be the location for Middle-earth in the film adaption I began to consider that there might be a few people who would like to know where the locations were. I submitted the idea to Harper Collins Publishers who agreed to the whole concept. Once the approvals were in place I was put in touch with the Unit Publicist and Barrie Osborne who were just so helpful.

Writing the book took me to every major location from the films and when the book was released at the same time as The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers it was an instant success. It sold 18,000 copies in four days. The success continues and the book has now sold over 500,000 copies.


The Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook is the biggest selling film tourism book world-wide.


Film Tourism, Film Set, Hobbiton Movie Set


The release of the films in New Zealand was huge and I was used by Tourism NZ and Air NZ as an Ambassador, which involved taking international media around the country to the locations featured onscreen. This led to being the live red carpet presenter (with others) for national television, upon the release of The Return of the King.

When the The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was about to be filmed in New Zealand, I suggested a teenage market book on how films are made, concentrating on all the different crafts that combine to make a major feature. Six weeks were spent on set to source photographs for the book. When Cameras in Narnia was released it sold 850,000 copies and won a number of awards.

I later worked as Media and Communications Manager at Hobbiton Movie Set from 2009, escorting media, taking images and developing advertising material, etc.

I’ve also become a speaker on the benefits of film tourism, including giving lectures on cruise ships about the topic. This role has taken me to conferences in Pattaya, Krakow, Berlin, Lillehammer and New Zealand. During my visit to Lillehammer, I developed a love for Norway and working with Norwegian crews. They are practical, very friendly and the landscapes are stunning. This led to on-going work with Visit Lillehammer, Nice View Studio, Mesna Activities and Accommodation and Paradox Film.


Birkebeinerne, Film Set


In 2014 I was approached by Visit Rjukan to create an eBook showcasing the region and the mini-series The Heavy Water War. I spent 10 weeks in the snow in Rjukan with the production utilising my images. I am now the official photographer for Visit Rjukan. E-Books create such a special way to view product. They can be seen on Apple, Android and Windows devices, both portable and main computers. The opportunity to embed slideshows, videos, call outs and so many other things enhances the product. Working with the Unit Publicist, I can create the images as the stills photographer then create the book, so fewer people need to get involved and it can be created on the fly so producers and directors can have input. My photography for films is behind the scenes, how it is made, what the people do and the locations. Then I write my personal take on it. I guess by being at those two levels the third just comes along naturally.

I’ve also created location guides for The Hobbit Motion Picture Trilogy although I never did visit the sets. In 2015 I was asked to create an eBook for Visit Somerset. Six months were spent in the county taking images and researching. The book was launched in May 2016 at Westminster.


I am really a one-man band. I take the images, write the text and code the book.


Film Tourism


I love working with film and film tourism. My knowledge of these subjects provides a practical and common-sense approach for film production companies and tourism organisations, allowing them to work together to promote both film and locations to tourists and fans.

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