Bring Hollywood within your reach
Feature film production in Southern California has dropped off 50 percent from its peak in 1996, according to a study by FilmL.A., Inc. Studios are more often choosing to film in a setting more closely resembling that of its movie rather than on a sound stage in Hollywood.
“Every movie director will tell you the correct film location could make or break a project. Besides the main actors and the good quality of the script, it’s the location that ultimately creates the world we all escape to when we are sitting in the movie theater,” said Clara Berta, whose home and artist studio is used for filming locations in Los Angeles.
Many former filming sites have since become popular tourist locations, be it for the admiration of the movie or the reputation of the city itself. Check out five popular filming sites to visit below:
Mansfield, Ohio – “The Shawshank Redemption”
Visit rural Ohio where modern-day classic “The Shawshank Redemption” was filmed. Sept. 2014 marks the 20-year anniversary for the film, but sight seers can check out the filming locations at any time with the help of the Shawshank Trail (shawshanktrail.com). The website directs you to a brochure for the “Drive-It-Yourself” tour, which starts at the historic Ohio State Reformatory, the site of Shawshank State Prison itself, and weaves you through thirteen other sites in Mansfield, Ashland and Upper Sandusky, where iconic scenes of the revered movie were filmed. Be sure to check the destinations ahead of time for any entrance fees and hours of operation, as they vary by site.
Dyersville, Iowa “Field of Dreams”
This year is also a notable anniversary for “Field of Dreams,” with 2014 marking 25 years for the Academy Award-nominated film. Famous quote from the movie, “If you build it, they will come,” could not be more accurate for this filming location. Jordan Rane for CNN.com estimates that 65,000 annual visitors flock to the site each year. The destination’s website, http://www.fodmoviesite.com, states that the farm and field is a popular tourist destination for young and old fans of the film alike, where reality mixes with fantasy and dreams can come true, just like in the movie.
“A moment in time, a place in cinematic history, a mecca for anyone longing to be a part of something greater than themselves, inching toward a destiny that has no limits. What could be more inspiring?” the website says. The “Field of Dreams” Movie Site is open every day from April through October and offers free admission and a gift shop. Check out the website for information on any special events the locale may be holding (“Field of Dreams” star Kevin Costner once performed there with his band, Modern West).
Philadelphia, Penn.- “Rocky”
Everyone knows of the scene where Rocky Balboa is running up the steps in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art; it is an iconic scene in cinematic history. But did you know that TV and movie site Screen Junkies, published by Break Media, ranked the Rocky Steps the number two most famous movie locations in the world? Each year, tens of thousands of visitors come to Philadelphia, rich with history itself, to run the stairs like Rocky, take in an awe-inspiring view of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and then pose for a photo with the bronze statue of Balboa back at the bottom of the steps.
Like “The Shawshank Redemption”, this movie franchise too has a tour of its filming sites throughout the city. Visitphilly.com offers a Quintessential Rocky Tour of Philadelphia, with a list, descriptions, and directions to fourteen sites frequented by the fictional Balboa.
Lowell, Mass.- “The Fighter”
Subject Micky Ward hailed from Lowell in real life, so it is only appropriate that the movie was filmed on location there.
The movie’s realistic boxing scenes were choreographed from Ward’s actual fights and filmed at UMass Lowell’s Tsongas Arena (www.tsongascenter.com). However, Suzanne Steinert of ShermansTravel Media said there may be someplace more exciting for film fans to visit.
“Learn how to deliver a knockout punch firsthand at Ramalho’s West End Gym (on Lawrence Street in Lowell) – the old-school facility where Ward himself trained and the movie’s gym sequences were filmed,” Steinert said.
While in Massachusetts, you can make the short trip to Boston and its suburbs to see where award winners like “The Departed” and “Good Will Hunting” were filmed, among many, many others. It is recommended to take the Theater-on-Wheels tour (gotobus.com), a 2-1/2 hour tour of movie and television filming sites, or the Boston Movie Mile (onlocationtours.com), a two-hour guided walking tour of more than a dozen locations from well-known films.
Cleveland, Ohio- “A Christmas Story”
Back in the heartland is Ralphie’s house from seasonal favorite “A Christmas Story.” The movie was set in the fictional Indiana town of Hohman, but filmed in Cleveland, which is where the restored house and museum/gift shop sit. The house offers public tours year round, and the museum features famous props, costumes and memorabilia, including rare behind-the- scenes photos.
The website Achristmasstoryhouse.com also features much more information about the movie and the house from it, including a list of events that are part of Cleveland’s Christmas in July presented by “A Christmas Story House.”
This list compiles just five of the movie sites in the United States that are worth visiting. International Movie Database (imdb.com) lists filming locations, among other information, about nearly any movie there is. Find your favorite film and take a road trip today.
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