Teens, parents, and workers from nearby businesses edged as close as crews would let them Monday to scene setups for "Of Men and Mavericks," a biopic about celebrated surfer Jay Moriarity.
"It's a lot of fun," said visitor Joe Bullen, at the intersection of Flores Street and 25th Avenue. "I like this."
Several said they had turned up in hopes of seeing Gerard Butler ("300," "How to Train a Dragon"), who appears in the film as a mentor to Moriarity -- a role that was originally said to be Sean Penn's. Elisabeth Shue ("Leaving Las Vegas," "Hollow Man") plays his mother, and Jonny Weston has the lead role.
"It's pretty cool," said Andrew Conrad, who walked over with a couple pals from the neighborhood. "I just showed thinking I might get a high five with Gerard Butler."
No-nonsense production assistant Alyssa Gruhn kindly but firmly shooed onlookers from a crucial spot in order to accommodate a lenghtwise shot down a wide, wooded street.
Police blocked all traffic on Hacienda near the intersection of 29th and 30th avenues for a scene in which Weston skateboards down the street. Late-model parked cars had been replaced with '90s vehicles.
The business district's low-lying storefronts and one-of-a-kind shops -- Ted's Village Pharmacy, the Cigar Loft, and Luceti's on 25th -- do indeed harken back to a time even before that in which the film is set.
The street itself has some film cachet to its credit: Actress Diane Varsi, star of the 1957 film "Peyton Place," lived at the corner of 29th and Hacienda.
San Mateo Police Department sent advance word to all residents on its notification list. They also gave area business owners a heads' up that traffic would be halted, and that they might receive a crush of customers.
"So far, only security," said Tara Shelton, manager of San Mateo Coffee Company in the late afternoon.
All local info about the production -- real and rumored -- landed with Jonathan Alemania, manager of the eclectic and edgy Vinyl Solution, a record store on 25th Avenue.
"It's a pretty high-budget production," he said. "The film is actually supposed to take place in Santa Cruz, but the majority takes place in Half Moon Bay."
That's the site of the Mavericks, where an underwater rock formation creates a break, and waves that can exceed 25 feet and top out at 80. Big wave riders -- an elite bunch -- surf the spot with trepidation. Only surfers at the top of their game participate in the annual invitation-only contest, and sometimes conditions present such a hazard that organizers scrap the competition entirely.
Moriarity wrote his The Ultimate Guide to Surfing with a partner in 2001 -- the year he died in a diving accident in the Maldives.
Filming is expected to continue on the coast through mid-December, with a release date of October 2012 in mind.