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A Look Inside 'The Bag'

Marlyn Mason couldn't fight back tears Saturday as she watched a fictionalized version of her mother express her wish to die.

Mason, 69, remained on set throughout the day to watch her screenplay "The Bag" brought to life on location in Central Point and Medford.

"The Bag" tells the story of an elderly couple dealing with the impending suicide of matriarch Evelyn Harper.

Mason based the screenplay on interactions she had with her mother and stepfather. Mason's mother chose to end her life at age 92 by refusing to eat.

"She slipped quietly in a coma," Mason said. "She didn't have cancer or a terminal disease; it was just that she chose not to continue living and wanted to die with dignity."

Despite the tough subject, Mason doesn't see the film as depressing or happy.

"It just tells a story that's more common than people think," Mason said. "I don't want to make it political, but I do believe we should respect the wishes of those who want to end their lives on their own terms."

Veteran actors Peggy Stewart and Richard Erdman star in "The Bag," directed by Ray Robison.

Mason is a longtime television and screen actor who lives in Medford.She co-stars as Stewart's daughter, who discovers pills her mother has been keeping in anticipation of dying.

Stewart, 86, is the star of numerous Western films and TV shows and most recently played Pam's grandmother in the wedding episode of "The Office."

Erdman, 84, has been acting in television and on screen for seven decades, and is known for his roles as barracks chief Hoffy in "Stalag 17," McNulty in the "Twilight Zone" episode "A Kind of a Stopwatch" and Col. Edward French in "Tora, Tora, Tora."

The crew spent the afternoon wrapping up shooting in a home on Blue Moon Drive in Central Point.

The home, which was closed to visitors during the shoot, was busy with grips, lightning technicians and make-up artists.

The soft-spoken Robison bounced between actors and his crew in the moments before the emotional scene in the home's bedroom.

During the scene, Stewart's character climbs slowly into bed with her husband.

She describes how she wishes her daughter would stop meddling in her life and allow her to die in the manner she sees fit.

Mason watches from just outside the room. She wipes her eyes as Stewart delivers her lines.

"It's hard," Mason said. "Seventy-five percent of this script is accurate to real life."

Robison asks the actors to give three takes before he feels comfortable wrapping the scene.

"It's been long days, but I really like the script and I think we're doing a good job," Robison said during a break.

The crew plans to invade Kaleidoscope Pizza today to finish the short film.

"The Bag" is being filmed for a meager $23,000 — the tiniest of sums by Hollywood's bloated standards."

Robison expects the movie will be from 22 to 27 minutes in length and will be ready for the film festival circuit by spring.

Mason hopes to submit the final product to the country's best film festivals.

"You have to aim for the top," Mason said. "If you don't you are just limiting yourself."

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtrbune.com.

Director Ray Robinson works with actors Richard Erdman and Peggy Stewart, while Director of Photography Warren Schultz and Sound Recording Chance Larsen wait for action during the production of ' The Bag ' in Central Point Saturday. Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch - Jamie Lusch