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“Addicted to Fresno” and Film Tourism in California

By hire-up-staffing in Hot Spots
An upcoming film called “Addicted to Fresno” will be on limited release in October 2 of this year, courtesy of Gravitas Ventures. It was even given a worldwide premiere in South by South West (SXSW) last March 14 but will also be released all over the US via video on demand come September 1.
Starring Judy Greer and Natasha Lyonne, the movie is set, well, here in Fresno. As a dark comedy, the 85 minutes is filled with emotionally charged yet witty banter and a rather interesting storyline. Featuring supporting roles by the likes of Fred Armisen, Molly Shannon and Aubrey Plaza, the movie is anything but lacking in star quality.
Written by Karey Dornetto (screenwriter for shows like Community, South Park, and Arrested Development), the premise of the story is that Martha (Lyonne) and Shannon (Greer) are two hotel maids and co-dependent sisters. Lyonne’s character is a “lonely lesbian” while Greer’s is that of a “recovering sex addict.” After a horrific accident, the pair decided to cover up the accidental crime, going through “ludicrous lengths” after encountering the challenge of another set of people asking for hush money.
Getting mixed reviews since its SXSW world premiere, the movie has also been shown in places like the Toronto LGBT Film Festival in Canada, Frameline Film Festival in the Bay Area in San Francisco, and Edinburg International Film Festival in the United Kingdom.
The more positive reviews received would include that of Slant Magazine, who wrote, “Brightly lit and cheerfully acted, Jamie Babbit’s Fresno pushes its not-so-funny premise almost to the breaking point, sacrificing character development on the altar of comedy along the way.” The Village Voice said the movie was, “Consistently frickin’ hilarious. Perfect cast.”
Flavorwire gave an even more interesting review: “As a performer’s showcase, it’s hard to beat. Judy Greer and Natasha Lyonne anchor it with a priceless good sister/bad sister dynamic; Lyonne is atypically sunny (and typically delightful) while Greer, as a bitter burnout, puts a sharp little spin on every line, turning each into a little dagger. Aubrey Plaza also shines in a brief but juicy bit as a would-be love interest for Lyonne.”
Why are all these positive notes important? While it has been stated that the film’s setting was chosen partially because Fresno was a city that “seemed like it was a city people wanted to get away from,” film tourism may actually play a role in getting people to work here.
Many recent studies suggest that movies really do have a strong influence not only on decision making for people on short-term vacations, but also affect tourism revenues and long-term prosperity of destinations. For example, “Notting Hill” induced a 10% increase in visitor numbers to Kenwood House, England in just one month. “Troy” brought in a 73% increase in Canakkale, Turkey, and Iowa in general received 35,000 visits in 1991 due to “Field of Dreams,” and the visits have been increasing each year.
Hopefully, as with many other movies and television shows set in bigger and more famous destinations, “Addicted to Fresno” would be funny and interesting enough that it may draw people here not only to visit but also to get jobs. It’s one of the major economic benefits as film-induced tourism can bring life back into rural areas and increase tourism in urban ones.