Promoting the railroad to Hollywood

Synonymous with entertainment, Las Vegas has been fashionably flaunting its glitter and glamour to movie makers for decades. Northern Nevada has also been revealing its virtues to the motion picture industry as part of an organized statewide effort to promote Nevada as a location for future film and television productions.

Under the auspices of the Commission on Economic Development, the Nevada Film Office is aggressively marketing the Silver State as a destination for production companies. At the helm of the office in northern Nevada is Deputy Director Robin Holabird.

Robin, who joined the Nevada Film Office in 1986, has worked with key moviemakers on dozens of major motion pictures including "Bonanza - The Next Generation," "Lethal Weapon 4," "City of Angels," "Sister Act," "The Bodyguard" and "Independence Day." With experience in journalism, film and public administration, she is well qualified to provide production companies with the critical support they need when scouting for locations and experienced industry professionals.

Included in her arsenal of promotional tools is a slick, spiral bound directory provocatively inviting people to explore its pages. Promoting "Locations Less Known," this compact resource guide contains a treasure trove of information - everything from a recitation of Nevada's child labor laws to a list of catering companies.

In addition, there are guides designed to provide filmmakers with an inventory of potential shooting locations. These too extol the virtues of filming in Nevada. Gracing each page are eye catching photographs of landscapes and buildings that have become so familiar to the average Nevadan that they have lost their allure. To a film producer, however, they are undoubtedly a captivating sight.

Although sending written materials to location managers is one tool used to attract filmmakers to Nevada, Robin and her staff also use a more aggressive approach to marketing the state to production companies. By visiting movie studios and attending industry gatherings, they are better able to ensure that Nevada locations will at least be considered if not ultimately selected. Robin admits that location managers are now calling her. "We get more calls than we used to generate through marketing programs," she confirms with obvious satisfaction. With the diversity of its landscapes and lifestyles, Nevada is a virtual cornucopia of sites and sounds ready for tender exploitation by camera crews.

In the Filmmakers Guide to Reno-Tahoe Area, northern Nevada railroad heritage is prominently profiled. Depicted opposite a page on the mines of Virginia City are the depot at Gold Hill and the Virginia & Truckee Railroad, which both figured prominently in the 1995 movie "Dead Man" starring Johnny Depp. Although, according to Robin, the film was a rather offbeat, surrealistic black and white western, it did lead to the partial refurbishment of two V&T passenger cars and the generation of positive publicity for the area as a location for filming.

When evaluating the impact a film has on an area, Robin insists, "We have to look at a project and its budget. Exposure is as important as other economic benefits."

When asked to comment on the value of extending the V&T Railroad from Gold Hill to Carson City for future filming purposes, Robin was adamant about the need to preserve some of the scenic expanses along the right-of-way for at least a couple of miles. Although, to a certain extent, landscapes can be altered through the magic of cinematography, preserving the illusion of authenticity will require the preservation of important vistas along the railroad route.

As the Tricounty Railway Commission negotiates to acquire land for the laying of track, it should raise its sights to include some of the irreplaceable scenery beyond the rails. The preservation of these historic vistas will only further enhance the economic benefits of reconstruction.

(Copies of the latest Nevada Production Directory are available at the Nevada Film Office located at 108 E. Proctor St. in the old Fireside building. People interested in further information are encouraged to visit the Nevada Film Office's web site at


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