If you love a particular television show, visiting its filming locations is a great way to walk in the footsteps of your favourite actors and to experience the reel spots in real life.
Being there takes your enjoyment of the show to a whole new level and is definitely more fun than watching - and re-watching - the scenes ad infinitum.
As a die-hard fan of the hit TV series American Horror Story, I know every scene of the horror anthology word-for-word. So I could not pass up the opportunity to see, smell, hear and feel the places used to create this TV show when visiting the United States earlier this year.
I made it a point to visit 12 filming locations - at least one from each of the six seasons aired so far - across three cities and had a delightfully horrifying time.
While most of the show's indoor scenes are shot in film studios, the outdoor shots are of existing buildings and places mostly in and around Los Angeles and New Orleans.
I found these spots by scouring fansites, tabloid reports and celebrity gossip websites and pinpointed the exact locations using Google Maps.
New Orleans, I found, had the most filming locations - seven - which worked out well because they were mainly used in my favourite season - the third one, which features a coven of back-stabbing witches.
Most of the filming locations for American Horror Story can be found in or around the cities of Los Angeles and New Orleans.
The total flying time from Singapore to Los Angeles is about 19 hours and several airlines fly the route. For example, Japan Airlines does so with a stopover in Tokyo, while EVA Air has a stopover in Taipei.
New Orleans is about a four-hour flight from Los Angeles.
During my trip, I took a one-way Spirit Airlines flight from New Orleans to Los Angeles, which cost US$141 (S$192).
There is the Buckner Mansion, whose exterior was used to show the witches' academy; the Maison Vitry building, which depicted a voodoo queen's hair saloon; and Lafayette Cemetery No. 2, which was used to film a funeral procession set to jazz music.
Many filming locations are accessible to the public and some tours even take you inside the buildings.
One of my fondest memories of New Orleans was when I went on a 21/2-hour American Horror Story- themed walking tour to at least four filming locations in the city.
My tour guide, Bea, who lives in the city, was knowledgeable, entertaining and, most importantly, just as big a fan as I am. As we visited the sites, she showed me screengrabs of the show on her iPad and we prattled on about the stars, such as American actors Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson and Jessica Lange, and what filming might have been like.
"Did you see the stars when they were filming?" I pestered.
"Did you get their autograph? Did you take selfies? Are they as good-looking in real life? What did they eat for lunch?"
I had questions, she had answers and the cost of the tour - US$25 (S$34) - was the best money I spent that day.
Seeing the locations in person, I could compare the actual spots with how they appeared on screen and appreciate the camerawork, lighting and computer-generated imagery used to create the show's dark, foreboding tone.
Its creators reportedly put a lot of care into selecting the locations and how to shoot them.
For example, the exterior of the Old Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana was used to depict an asylum of crazy criminals and even more twisted caretakers in the second season.
Mr Michael Goi, a director of photography on the show, revealed in a behind-the-scenes featurette that some scenes at the courthouse were shot on colour-reversal film, which provides "a lot of contrast" and "really deep blacks".
For a fan, the best part about being on location is that it allowed me to live out some of my ultimate fanboy fantasies.
In New Orleans, I walked across Toulouse Street dressed head-to- toe in black, donning sunglasses and holding a black umbrella, just like Lange did when she played a witch in the third season.
In Los Angeles, I posed for photos at a famous streetlamp installation at the entrance of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the exact spot where Lady Gaga stood in the fifth season, when her bloodthirsty vampire character was looking for victims to kill.
After returning to Singapore and re-watching the scenes for the umpteenth time, I realised my trip helped me "level up" as a fan.
Now, not only do I know the scenes word-for-word, but I also know exactly where they were shot. And best of all, I have been to those locations.
1 BUCKNER MANSION
Where: 1410 Jackson Avenue, New Orleans
Stately and opulent, with 48 columns lining the galleries around the building, this three-storey, plantation-style home is one of the most beautiful filming locations used on the show. In the third season, its exterior was used to show the academy housing a witches' coven, where a witch was impaled by a spike on the garden fence.
In real life, the building was constructed in 1856 by Mr Henry S. Buckner, a cotton tycoon. From 1923 to 1983, it was the home of the former Soule Business College, until the school closed its doors. The building is now privately owned.
2 LONGUE VUE HOUSE AND GARDENS
Where: 7 Bamboo Road, New Orleans
With its charming fountains and landscaped gardens, this location looks more suited for bridal shoots than a horror series. But in Season 4, its elegant exterior was used to shoot the home of a psychopathic serial killer played by American actor Finn Wittrock. The character murdered his mother and her maid on the property.
In real life, the location is a historic landmark and tourist attraction. The former home of Mr Edgar Stern, a prominent businessman and philanthropist, and his wife Edith, it was designed and built between 1939 and 1942.
The location is open from Mondays to Saturdays, 10am to 5pm, and on Sundays from 1 to 5pm. Docent-led house tours are held every hour, with the last tour starting at 4pm. Tours cost US$12 (S$16) for adults and US$5 for children.
3 JAMES OVIATT BUILDING
Where: 617 South Olive Street, Los Angeles
With its dark, spiky design, this 13-storey Art Deco building was convincing as the exterior of the fictional hotel in Season 5 where - in the words of American band The Eagles - you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.
On the show, the hotel was owned by a vampire played by Lady Gaga, who often killed her victims by slashing their throats with a sharp, chain-mail glove.
In real life, the building was constructed in the 1920s as the headquarters of haberdashery Alexander & Oviatt. Today, it houses a restaurant, offices and a penthouse.
4 OLD ORANGE COUNTY COURTHOUSE
Where: 211 West Santa Ana Boulevard, Santa Ana
Season 2's twisted asylum, which housed a Nazi war criminal who conducted torturous experiments on the patients, as well as a devil-possessed nun, is a former courthouse.
Less than an hour's drive from Los Angeles, this Richardsonian Romanesque sandstone and granite building is southern California's oldest court building.
Built in 1901 and vacated by the courts in 1969, it now contains the Old Courthouse Museum as well as several county offices.
The building is open from Mondays to Fridays from 8am to 4.30pm, except on county holidays, and admission to the museum is free.
5 ORPHEUM THEATRE
Where: 842 South Broadway, Los Angeles
While most of the filming locations for the show's sixth season have been torn down or are too remote for the average tourist to reach, one theatre is still open for business.
The Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles was used to film a key scene in the show, where a protagonist played by American actor Cuba Gooding Jr was knocked unconscious by a passer-by.
The performance venue has a long history. Opened in 1926, it has hosted stars such as burlesque queen Sally Rand and jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald. American country singer Carrie Underwood held a concert there two months ago.
6 ROSENHEIM MANSION
Where: 1120 Westchester Place, Los Angeles
The exterior of this grand mansion, with Italian brickwork and Tiffany stained-glass windows, was the iconic murder house in the show's first season. In the story, the house is the setting for many creepy scenes, such as when Dylan McDermott's character was hanged by the resident ghosts and Connie Britton's character gave birth to a boy said to be the anti-Christ.
In real life, the house was built in 1908 by architect Alfred Rosenheim. In 2015, it was reportedly purchased by actress Angela Oakenfold and her domestic partner.
The pilot episode of American Horror Story was reportedly shot on location, while other episodes in the season were filmed on sets that were replicas of the house.
A popular filming location, the mansion has also appeared in other TV shows such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
American actor Evan Peters, who played a teenager that raped Britton's character in the first season of American Horror Story, once said of the house in an interview with People.com: "It's just a creepy house, it's so terrifying, with that wood everywhere. I would never, ever want to live in that house."
US election as backdrop for new season
The show's seventh season, titled American Horror Story: Cult, will kick off with a real-life event.
In interviews, the show's co-creator Ryan Murphy has said this upcoming season will be about last year's United States election and will feature footage of President Donald Trump and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Murphy told E! Online that the season's first 10 minutes will take place on election night, adding: "There's something terrible that happens in the lives of our characters on election night as they're watching it all go down."
The 11-episode season will be set in Michigan, although celebrity gossip and entertainment news website JustJared.com reported that stars Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson and Adina Porter were spotted in May filming outside a courthouse in Los Angeles.
Other cast members confirmed to appear in the upcoming season include Cheyenne Jackson, Billie Lourd and Alison Pill. Trailers suggest that bees and killer clowns might appear this season.
The series airs on FX (Singtel TV Channel 310 and StarHub TV Channel 507) from next Wednesday at 10pm. All previous seasons of the show are also available on video-streaming service Fox+.
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