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'Model Rules,' a tale of success

Marlyn Mason could tell that Ray Robison was nervous. The two were meeting to discuss "Model Rules," a short film Mason had written and would star in, and Robison would direct.

"I think you have to be a little bit nude," Robison said.

"Ray," said Mason, 67, "I'm expecting it from head to toe."

That was a year ago, and with that the project was off and running. "Model Rules" was written by Mason and shot entirely in Medford, where it was produced and directed by Robison with Mason co-producing (visit freewebs.com/modelrules).

The short film, shot at the Rogue Gallery and Mason's home for less than $1,000, had its world premiere in August at the prestigious Rhode Island International Film Festival, where it won the Best Screenplay award. Mason also won the Best Actress award at the fifth annual Bend Film Festival for her role in the picture.

Mason plays Gabby, an aging model who fantasizes about one of the men who is drawing her as she poses. The producers describe the film as "a tale of unrealized romance."

No local showings are planned, but the producers hope the film will be a selection of the Ashland Film Festival in the spring. It has already been a selection of the Los Angeles International Film Festival and the Asheville, N.C., festival.

Mason had the idea that led to the story five years ago when she got burned out on a screenplay she was writing with a friend and put it on the shelf. She'd come across a modeling agency that had lots of rules for its models, and the idea had stuck in her head. At her friend's suggestion, she reprised the model idea for a contest for 500-word stories.

"I hung up the phone and 45 minutes later had a story," she says.

That was in April of last year. By October she and Robison had a cast and crew together. Robison said she wouldn't have to write any scenes.

"It's all here," he said, indicating the story.

The film tells the story from the woman's point of view. The ending is mysterious, leaving it to viewers to decide what happens.

Mason acted in countless TV shows over the years before retiring to Medford, including the musical specials "Carousel" and "Brigadoon," with Robert Goulet. She is perhaps best remembered as Elvis Presley's leading lady in his next to last film, 1969's "The Trouble with Girls."

Robison broke into the film festival circuit with last year's micro-budget "Sixes and the One Eyed King," a mystery thriller that won awards at the Bluegrass Independent Film Festival, Miami Underground Film Festival and Rogue Independent Film Festival.

Kenn Christenson of White City was director of photography on "Model Rules." Becky Geear of Eagle Point was the art director. Makeup and hair styling was provided by Medford's Oregon School of Cosmetology.

The film also stars Michael Isaacson, formerly of Medford; Scott Ford of Ashland; and Larry Ziegelmeyer of Medford.

Mason says going nude for the camera was no big deal.

"I'm an actress," she says with a laugh. "I'll do anything, as long as it's not anything claustrophobic."

Reach reporter Bill Varble at bvarble@mailtribune.com or 776-4478

Marlyn Mason and Ray Robison go over a scene while filming at the Rogue Art Gallery & Art Center in Medford.