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Refuge The Movie

Our First Festivals  

Posted by:

Mark Medoff

,  February 28, 2011.
The Dave, First A.C. Benito Barcenas,
Mark, Ross Vannelli doing a little
improvised ADR.

February 26, 2011

With the enduring, nay, undying support of producer Ginger Perkins, editor Sidney Levin, composer Ross Vannelli, sound mixer The Dave, and our jack of all trades, the precocious, just graduated from New Mexico State University’s Creative Media Institute for Film and Digital Arts, Eric Cameron, we finished REFUGE several months ago and began seeking film festivals in search of interested audience and perhaps a distributor or other media buyer for our movie.


  Ross and Mark in The Dave's
studio in Las Cruces

I’m happy to say the first festivals we applied to, Palm Beach International Film Festival and Boston International Film Festival, have invited us to participate.  Palm Beach runs March 23-28 and Boston April 14-24.  My wife Stephanie and I will be in Palm Beach where I anticipate a good number of my Miami Beach High School classmates will come to hang out with us.  In Boston, Producer Ginger, Executive Producers Kathy and Jim Gurfein, as well as at least several of our lead actors will be in attendance.

In all, being asked to screen, to show up and do
seminars and talkbacks, is way, way better than
a kick in the ass.

Ross and Mark in The Dave's studio in Las Cruces  

The journey of any play or movie, in my experience, is a constant reminder to me of the lunacy and egregious egomania of the so-called “possessary credit,” whereby the director of a movie takes credit for a movie via the “A Film by Todd Narcissus” notation usually at the beginning of a movie.  The play, the movie is a journey of separate spirits who join together to accept the challenge of the work’s fate.
The length of the effort and the breadth of the unified collaborators are great.  And good.
Mark Medoff

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Posted by:

Mark Medoff

,  July 23, 2010.

Those of you who followed our blogs last summer may have wondered, in passing, what the hell we’ve been doing in the silence?

Somehow, it was easier to blog when I was impossibly busy than when I had plenty of time.

We were slowed a bit when our Sound Mixer and Post Production Sound Mixer Dave Wheeler discovered he needed brain surgery.  In the true spirit of The Dave, he offered to postpone his surgery to finish the movie.  Though of course I wanted to take him up on that and then hold him to it, my little bit of remaining rightness forced me to urge him to get his brain fixed, then mix the movie.

All of us who know and love The Dave are relieved that he is back to his Daveness.

My great friend, the really, really famous editor Sidney Levin, an associate producer on the movie, has been invaluable to our editors and post-production team. 

Sidney has been fabulous at pounding me to a pulp where the excesses of language are concerned, making myriad wise suggestions toward streamlining the movie, since as someone schooled in writing gobs of dialogue, I need someone wise to tell me where Phil Treon and I are obfuscating the emotional force of the movie with clever blather.

For his help in this matter, I am eternally grateful and hate his guts.  (A lot of those now absent lines were very clever.  I will try to use them elsewhere, of course.)

At this time, on this day, Sidney is here to help with the final mix.  Composer Ross Vannelli is here, Eric Cameron, our post-production, is here, The Dave is here.  I’m here. 

Eric is a terrific young writer/director in his own right.  Ross – and the Vannelli family – have a long and impressive list of accomplishments in pop music and movies.  (Ross and JD Hinton did the music for CHILDREN ON THEIR BIRTHDAYS, which Sidney edited, Ginger Perkins Produced, Chris McDonald was in, and I directed.)

JD sent several songs to us as possible end songs.  Ross brought a few others.  I asked a local friend/songwriter to do one.  So we have good choices for what will be two end songs, one segueing to the other over the credits.

The Dave is at one console with Sidney and me.  Eric is at another with Ross.  In here, there are voices and sound effects (and Sidney tormenting me with barbs Sidney thinks are hilarious.  He eventually becomes incredibly tiresome and I have to say something really nasty (but funny) to him to momentarily injure him and shut him up (momentarisly).

Simultaneous with the work in Las Cruces, DP Reuben Steinberg is in LA working on the color and look of the movie and Producer Ginger Perkins is making life easier for all us from her home office on Mulholland Drive.

People have been asking for months when the movie’s “coming out.”  The answer is:  It may never “come out.”  Once we finish (another month or so), we’ll start applying to film festivals and hope to be invited to some and then create sufficient interest that a distributor will take us to some sort of release platform.

Absent that, we’ll head for a DVD and/or cable deal.

Do we have a good movie?  I think so.  And if we do, it is because of the efforts of about 100 people who worked on the movie and another 100 who made it possible for the other 100 to do the work.

Another oft-asked question:  Do you get tired of looking at the same actors doing the same takes week after week?  Actually, watching Linda, the Chrises, Lena, and our two featured local actors, Amy Lanasa and Doyle Smith, makes me proud and appreciative ever and always.

All errors of any sort in the final product are mine aloe (really Sidney’s but he never takes any blame for anything).

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Posted by:

Posted by Lena Georgas

,  October 5, 2009.

On paper, Mark’s paper to be specific, Helen is tough.  She is a ball-buster. And she clearly wears the pants in the relationship.  She is strong.  She is a lawyer.  She is intelligent.  And her first line?  “Hiya, cowhand.”  For those of you not familiar with the rancher or farmer lifestyle (as I was not), a cowhand is defined as a hired hand who tends cattle and performs other duties on horseback.  In retrospect, perhaps I should have guessed the definition. It seemed pretty straightforward as far as someone who tends cattle, but the “on horseback” part of the definition really led me to something fundamentally important about their relationship:  Darryl and Helen have great sex. 

In creating the role, I consistently asked myself, “Why did Helen choose Darryl? What is it about him that led her to say ‘Yes” when he asked her to marry him?”  Well, the sex is a really big part of it.  We’ve covered that.  In addition, Helen has a deep appreciation for Darryl’s mind.  His humor, though dry, is creative.  And she finds him to be her intellectual equal.  So between the banging bedroom sessions and the witty repartee (as well as the fact that Helen deeply loves GEARS OF WAR 2 too), their attraction and connection is complete.  Until of course it isn’t. 

The second big question was:  Why is Helen so hard? For me, one of the most fundamental parts of building a character is the process of finding her back-story.  What happened to this person leading up to the moment that the movie begins? In other words, what happened to her that makes her act the way she acts?  My answer to this question was:  Helen did not have a wonderful childhood.  The relationship between her parents was rife with dishonesty and her father was, how can I say it, loose.  He had numerous affairs and she saw how it affected her mother.  The sipping of cognac alone on the couch when she thought Helen was asleep.  The soft conversation she had with herself as the alcohol took its hold.  So, she chooses Darryl.  She chooses someone whom she thinks won’t hurt her.  She chooses someone whom she thinks she can control and thereby eliminates the possibility of being controlled herself.  The angriest people in the world are the ones who are the most fearful.  She is hard on the outside because she cannot bear the idea of anyone seeing how soft her insides are.  That’s vulnerable.  And people who are vulnerable get mistreated.   They get taken advantage of.  Helen will not become her mother and she does everything within her power to ensure that. 

Finding Helen’s humanity was an incredibly wonderful experience for me.  It gave me reason to say everything that I said in the film.  It gave me reason to get mad when Darryl got too close for fear of being discovered.  It gave me reason to try and hurt someone before he hurt me (enter Rivera).  In all honesty, she scared me a little the first time I read her.  However, by Day One of shooting, because I understood her, I learned very quickly to love her.   It was a good lesson in compassion that I find is one of the biggest gifts I receive for being an actor.  Sometimes, people are who they are because of their past and because of their pain.  This knowledge allows me not to take something personally in a moment of conflict, but rather imagine the “why” of the behavior and not the “what.” 

Thank you Helen.  And thank you, Mark Medoff. 


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