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Conversations with Paul Preston

Today we’d like to introduce you to Paul Preston, owner/operator of The Movie Guys’ L.A. Film Locations Tour.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Early on in my twenty-plus years of living in L.A., I got the idea that this city is one big movie set. Everywhere I looked reminded me of a scene from a movie I saw. It got to where directions started being given in movie sets. “You wanna get to the mall? Sure, you go down Santa Monica Blvd. ’til you get to that building Riggs jumped off in Lethal Weapon, then turn left just past the burger joint from Real Genius. Go all the way down to Nakatomi Plaza and the mall’s just past that.”.

For a friend’s birthday, I put together a list of our most sought-after locations we wanted to check out – the Poltergeist house, the Pulp Fiction pawn shop, a bar from Memento and more. After that adventure, I wanted more, so I started scouring the city. I run a website (TheMovieGuys.net) all about movies. Films have been a LIFETIME passion of mine so exploring and devouring movie history in the city where it all started (and continues) didn’t require a nudge. Much like I was urged by friends to start the website, after numerous runs around the city to show people famous movie locations, I was encouraged to fire up a business.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Well, it certainly wasn’t as easy as, “I have a car, let’s do this!”. The company’s opening about a year later than I originally planned because of a sea of permits, insurance, filings, registrations, lawyers, DBAs, waivers, consulting firms, dealing with the DMV, the Department of Transportation, the Public Utilities Commission, and more! I’ve had my own LLC since 2006, so I knew the film locations tour would fall under that, but I wanted to make sure every legal situation I could think of was covered and that…took a year. Getting everything in place to launch wasn’t for the faint of heart, I often thought L.A.’s slogan should be, “ehhhh….don’t start your business here.” But hey, the harder the work, the greater the reward, right?

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I’ve been a performer my whole life, and one of my favorite phrases was attributed, I believe, to Glenn Close, who was asked why she was an actor and she said, “I change people’s molecules”. It’s true, people who witness a performance on stage or film are different afterwards, whether their horizons were broadened, or they laughed harder than ever before, or if they literally changed their life because of something they saw. This is true for any art, and it’s become my response to “What do you do for a living?” “I change people’s molecules.”

Now that I’ve started this branch of my career, the goal is no different. I hope you leave this tour a different person than before you came. Sounds lofty, but hey, it can either be sweeping or microscopic. Whether you bond more with the people you brought with you, or you learn more about movies and become more appreciative of them or just have the best damn vacation of your life that will be a highlight of your year, I hope to keep this from being a passive experience.

Can you talk to us a bit about happiness and what makes you happy?
My biggest joy is living life on my terms. When I succeed at that, there’s joy in hundreds if not thousands of moments per day. Time is the most valuable commodity I have so when that’s not being wasted, I’m happy, and I’m thrilled to have designed a life for myself where my happiness is out front of everything else. Settling is death.

Pricing:

  • $350 per car (1-4 guests)

Contact Info:

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