Learning from the Professionals: Film Tourists' "Authentic" Experiences on a Film Studio Tour


Wohlfeil M (2018) Learning from the Professionals: Film Tourists' "Authentic" Experiences on a Film Studio Tour. Arts and the Market, 8 (1), pp. 47-63.

The purpose of this paper is to explore how consumers perceive, experience and engage with the art of filmmaking and the industrial film production process that the film studios present to them during their guided film studio tours. Drawing on the author’s own film tourist experiences, observations and participatory interactions with fellow visitors at a major Hollywood film studio, this paper takes an autoethnographic “I’m-the-camera”-perspective and a hermeneutic data analysis approach. The findings reveal that visitors experience the ‘authentic’ representation of the working studio’s industrial film production process as an opportunity and ‘invitation to join’ a broader filmmaker community and to share their own amateur filmmaking experiences with fellow visitors and professionals – just to discover eventually that the perceived community is actually the real ‘simulacrum’. Although using an autoethnographic approach means that the breadth of collected data is limited, the gain in depth of insights allows for a deeper understanding of the actual visitor experience. The findings encourage film studio executives, managers and talent agents to reconsider current practices and motivations in delivering film studio tours and to explore avenues for harnessing their strategic potential.Contrary to previous studies that have conceptualised film studio tours as simulacra that deny consumers a genuine access to the backstage, the findings of this study suggest that the real simulacrum is actually the film tourists’ ‘experienced feeling’ of having joined and being part of a filmmaker community, which raises questions regarding the study of virtual communities.

Film studio tours; film tourism; authenticity; simulacra; consumer experiences; community; autoethnography

Arts and the Market: Volume 8, Issue 1

Publication date31/12/2018
Publication date online2018
Date accepted by journal14/11/2017