Hughston Brinson and his friends hovered Thursday night over the second story railing at his mother's motel, the Back on Track Inn, and watched as a movie crew set up cameras and lights below.
They brought snacks - fried chicken, chips and dip, soda - but once the buzz started about 6 p.m. the food got cold. No one wanted to leave the balcony in case they missed the stars arriving. Polsky Films is in town shooting the big screen adaptation of the book, "The Motel Life," a yarn about two brothers who flee their Reno motel room after getting involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident. Emile Hirsch of "Speed Racer" and "Into the Wild" fame and "Public Enemies'" Stephen Dorff portray the ill-fated brothers.
Even seemingly nonplused motel manager George Vincent got a kick out of overhearing some insider information on the movie's stars.
"How long will we be here?" One crew member asked another as they moved tables into an empty room and set up food for the cast and crew.
"Not long," came the answer, "I know Dakota has a hard out at 10."
Dakota Fanning, the most well-known of the movie's cast, just celebrated her 17th birthday. The mention of a "hard out" made Vincent and owner Betty Brinson speculate on whether that was because she's a juvenile.
"This is pretty big for our little town," said Vincent, whose job as the Back on Track Inn is to not only rent rooms and collect payments, but to try to clean up the reputation of the former Downtowner Motel.
A shady past, and not quite a five-star motel still, the Back on Track Inn rents rooms by the week to those on the brink of homelessness, said Vincent.
Its past was marred by condemnation by the city and a foreclosure on the previous owner. Brinson, owner of another Carson motel called the Whistle Stop Inn, came along and saved the vacant building from dilapidation, renaming it after her beloved trains.
So the fact that some Hollywood outfit would want to use it as a backdrop for a film with big names could help turn around its image, said Vincent.
"Maybe this will be good publicity for us," he said.
What could be seen by Hughston and his friends was not much.
They watched from a distance as Emile Hirsch was filmed three times walking to a door and knocking. But when Fanning was ushered under high security onto the set, crew members hung a black cloth in front of room 24 where filming would take place blocking their view.
The shoot Thursday came after multiple days of filming in Gardnerville, Genoa and Virginia City. On Friday, the crew was back in Minden shooting at the Holiday Lodge. Further filming in Carson City is set for next week, though the exact location was not released.
According to the Internet Movie Database others tapped to work on the movie are Kris Kristofferson, Joshua Leonard, Shae D'lyn, Oren Skoog and Noah Harpster.
Hughston and his mom Betty, along with friends Crystal Anderson, Kyle Chisum, Carissa Byram, Amber Fox and her son Julius Levy, had front row seats to what little action they could see. And despite the chilly night, it was enough.
"We were just excited when we heard that Dakota was in it," said Anderson, 23, of Reno.
"We were all excited," said Byram. "I wish they would film more up here. Maybe this is the start."