'Motel Life' giving back to Carson Tahoe Continuing Care Hospital

Shannon Litz/Nevada AppealCarson City Mayor Bob Crowell talks with Carson Tahoe Regional Healthcare Foundation Development Officer Kitty McKay and "The Motel Life" Producer Ann Ruark on Thursday.

Shannon Litz/Nevada AppealCarson City Mayor Bob Crowell talks with Carson Tahoe Regional Healthcare Foundation Development Officer Kitty McKay and "The Motel Life" Producer Ann Ruark on Thursday.

While today marks the last day of filming for the cast and crew of "The Motel Life," members of Carson Tahoe Regional Healthcare are hoping the film's impact will last longer than just the 24 days spent filming in the region.

Instead of paying a fee to use the Carson Tahoe Continuing Care Hospital as a set, the film's producers created a fund with the health care provider's non-profit foundation that will raise money for the hospital's indigent population who struggle to pay for medical care.

It's a fitting coda for the film, which tells the story of two brothers who lead a hard-luck life in Reno, said Kitty McKay, the development officer of the Carson Tahoe Regional Healthcare Foundation. The fund will grow depending on the film's success.

"Our great hope is ... our people that are experiencing a similar situation that perhaps we could help them when they are falling through the cracks," McKay said. "There's a huge opportunity to change the destiny of people in our community."

Producer Ann Ruark and location manager Chris Ramirez visited with staff members of the hospital as well as Mayor Bob Crowell on Thursday evening before starting their final 12 hours of filming.

Ruark and Ramirez called their experience of filming in Northern Nevada a positive one despite the fact that Nevada offers no financial rebates for movie makers unlike New Mexico, a location they had considered.

"We made what some people would consider not the smartest choice, but for us was the only choice, which was to go to all these places," Ruark said. "Because in the book, in the script it's so much a Nevada story, so much about Reno that we had to come."

Ramirez, whose production company is based in Las Vegas, said he used to live in Reno and had experience with some of the locations featured in the book. He said he went to a couple bars in Reno, including Casale's Half Way, and got an unexpected reaction when he asked to film there.

"People would look at me sideways and I'd say it's based on these two brothers and people would grab a copy (of "The Motel Life") from behind the bar," Rami-rez said. "People would say anything we can do to help."

The generosity of the locals made filming in Northern Nevada easier than other locations, he said, adding while Las Vegas gets films like "The Hangover."

Ruark also has produced "Babel," "Broken Flowers" and the recently Oscar-nominated foreign film, "Biutiful."

Ramirez said CTRH staffers such as Carla Farnworth, Cheri Glockner and CTCCH CEO Neal Duncan helped throughout the production at the hospital.

"It makes a world of difference to know that we have people on our side and we're not just business partners," he said. "It was kind of like thank you for coming here."

About 50 people worked on the movie and all of them stayed at Carson City's Hardman House. Ramirez said he could tell local businesses were appreciative of the extra income from the Hollywood spotlight.

"You could tell a little boost is nice," he said. "That's good for everybody."

The film, directed by Gabe and Alan Polsky, is based on the 2007 novel by Willy Vlautin, which tells the story of two brothers living a meager existence in Reno who go on the run after one of them kills a boy in a hit and run accident. Ruark said they're planning for a wide-release in mid-2012.

"It's about two brothers with really bad luck and who have had a really hard life," Ruark said. "It captures them in that moment for one of them, his luck is at the absolute bottom and the other one supports him."

The brothers are played by actors Emile Hirsch and Stephen Dorff. Other starring roles are played by Dakota Fanning and Kris Kristofferson.

"I read the script, the script is just terrific," Ruark said. "It's such a good story and it has such a nice tone. It could be really dark, really gloomy, but it's not. It's kind of inspiring and it really makes a big difference."

She adds, "It's an interesting investment, we'll see how it pays off."


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