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Filmmaker Jamie Heinrich shot scenes in Reno’s Mizpah Hotel before the fire that led to its demolition.

Filmmaker Jamie Heinrich shot scenes in Reno’s Mizpah Hotel before the fire that led to its demolition.

Photo By David Robert

A dark-eyed hotel manager, his weariness accentuated under high-contrast, film noir lighting, nervously burns through cigarettes and pours a Scotch as he urges his guest not to check into Room 1408. The guest, a young writer, evokes the actress Kirsten Dunst with her breezy confidence and announces that she will not be dissuaded. She doesn’t believe in the hauntings she investigates anyway, so there’s nothing to worry about.

If you can’t tell by the creepy, yellow-green lighting and the eerie music—perfectly timed to make everything feel suspicious—that something is going to go awry, by the time you notice the oh-my-god-what’s-going-to-sneak-up-on-her camera angles, it’s time to pull the covers over your head and lock the door.

1408 is a 14-minute thriller based on the Steven King story of the same name. The film was shot in a room at the Mizpah Hotel in 2006—a room that residents claimed had some sort of inexplicable presence—three weeks before the Halloween night fire that killed 12 people and left many homeless.

Filmmaker Jamie Heinrich caught up with the RN&R last week as he was standing across the street watching the building’s demolition and watching Room 1408 disappear for good.

“It’s pretty ironic,” he says. “It was crazy to hear [about the fire], but I kind of wasn’t surprised either. It was strange enough doing the movie there, with everything that the tenants were saying. They had tons of stories about things happening and how haunted the place was.”

Heinrich, 30, says he started making films when he was 14. His first snowboarding film was distributed when he was 16.

As a professional motion–graphics artist for clothing companies and the action-sports industry, Heinrich had enough access to skilled friends and professional equipment to make 1408 look and sound polished on a budget of $300-400.

Heinrich enlisted the help of friend and graphic artist Ryan Bahlman and two actors, Matt Schrapp and Melissa Heinrich, his wife. All were volunteers paid with a few cases of PBR. The location expenses amounted to the Mizpah’s regular nightly room rate, which included the hotel manager doubling as props coordinator. The short “making of” film that screens with 1408 includes details about how the room was redecorated with 1920s furnishings for the shoot.

Heinrich has made more than 100 short films, and his goal is to shoot a feature-length film. 1408, one of three shorts he’s releasing on DVD soon, reveals his finesse with the technical elements of filmmaking. He’s spent some time working in the Los Angeles film world, and it shows in his careful attention to lighting, blocking, sound and scene design.

“Most of my films haven’t involved a lot of dialogue,” he says. “This is the first that has. I wanted to shoot something simple. There’s a lot to be allocating my attention to when it comes to the cinematography, the dialogue, the sound quality. I was looking for a simple story, and I’d just read that Stephen King story.” Another director’s take on the King story, a feature film starring John Cusack as the writer, is scheduled for release in July.

Art Note

Do it like Warhol on April 19 as the Nevada Museum of Art recreates Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable. Live Velvet Underground-inspired music from Think in French, Schizopolitans and The Frontmen are on tap, as are 16mm wall projections and trippy lighting. 1960s mod fashion is encouraged. 8:30 p.m., $4-$5. 160 West Liberty St. 329-3333. Tickets are at the door or through