2017 is sure to be an exciting year in the film industry if you are Ray Nomoto Robison. The award-winning film producer, director, writer will be filming his newest short, a film noir called "An Affair Remains" in Southern Oregon. The film features celebrated actress Marlyn Mason (best known for her leading role in Elvis' "The Trouble With Girls" and Japan's Masayuki Yui (of Kurosawa's "Ran" and "Dreams"). Upon meeting Ray, it is obvious that he is many things: part artist, part Buddhist philosopher, part film maker. Ray is a multitalented artist of the highest caliber whose travels have brought him to Oregon, a place he now happily calls home. But his life's journeys shaped his creative mind long before he came to reside in Oregon. Ray's nomadic childhood and multicultural family gave him an interesting ability to observe life from many different angles. In his youth, his father's military career required that Ray's family travel the globe, forcing Ray to adjust to more than 12 different schools in the US and abroad before finally setting up permanent residence in Montana during his senior year of high school. Ray found that what he'd lacked in forming long-term friendships he'd channeled into painting and drawing and it led him to enroll in University of Montana as an art major. As Ray began his art education, he also began putting down roots and forming community in Montana. After his freshman year, a casual conversation with a pal led to an epiphany for Ray; he wanted to focus on motion picture production. He transferred to Montana State University and immersed himself, discovering that collaboration art gave him great joy. His newfound friendships were pivotal as well, eventually leading him to meet his future wife. After graduation, Ray began working in the TV production industry in a variety of capacities; as news cameraman, in TV commercial production and public broadcasting. Landing a job with KTVL made Ray and his bride migrate to Southern Oregon and he continued to expand his artistic vision to include freelance work and eventually teaching video production in the school system. His students' projects reminded him that he too had stories of his own to tell and Ray returned to his earlier love; writing, directing and producing films. Ray's film credits include both feature films and independent shorts. Like so many artists, he critiques his work and constantly prefects his craft. His first film "Die Before I Wake" was purchased by an east coast film company. Ray used the success as a launch pad for his next film, "Sixes," which was accepted in to the film festival "Dances With Films" for competition. His successive film "Model Rules" was an award winning short film starring Marlyn Mason. And now, in fall of 2017 Ray will begin filming his newest film noir, "An Affair Remains". It seems that Ray has opened his creative floodgates and the flow shows no sign of ebbing; he has multiple scripts in mind for upcoming films that will be sure to touch a chord in every audience member through his thought-provoking storytelling.
Marlyn's illustrious career began at the age of 5 and continues soaring today. Marlyn's impressive resume includes such highlights as being cast as the leading lady in Elvis' "The Trouble with Girls", as Lucy Dewitt in "Wonder Woman," and Nikki in "Longstreet" to name a few. Marlyn's face graced countless popular TV series including, but not limited to; The Odd Couple, The Bob Newhart Show, Brigadoon, The Man From U.N.C.L.E, Hogan's Heros, Perry Mason and The Fugitive. Marlyn is also an award winning screenwriter for her work in Model Rules in which she plays the title role as well.
Photo courtesy of Marlyn Mason
In June, 2017 Marlyn's newest film, "Besetment" was released. This spine-tingling horror casts Marlyn in the lead role as a vicious and calculating villain. Her breathtaking performance paired with beautiful cinematography makes for a smashing hit!
Marlyn's upcoming film, "An Affair Remains" is written and directed by award-winning director Ray Nomoto Robison and features Masayuki Yui (Kurosawa's Dreams, Ran). Filming begins in fall 2017 and a fundraising campaign has begun to support this exciting independent film! Click here to find out more and to support the project!
Join us at our upcoming fundraising event for your chance to meet Marlyn, receive a free massage and help us support independent film making! Details coming soon!
Photo courtesy of Marlyn Mason
Hollywood Meets Southern Oregon
by Kate Voss
Nestled into the green valleys of Southern Oregon one can find any number of natural delights; honeysuckle-scented farm land, deep green pine forests, dramatically wild rivers and magnificent mountains. If you ask most Oregonians what enticed them to settle here the answer will likely be the same; the sense of freedom in this untamed, rugged wilderness. If you ask around a little more, you will find that there are two types of residents living here, the first group deserves a nod of respect as they are the hardy and brave early settlers that have deep roots in this fertile Oregon soil and consist of the descendants of noble Indian tribes and the great grandchildren of the early pioneers that pushed out west. The second group consists of newcomers like myself, often transplants from densely populated states that have ambled their way into the valley seeking wide open landscapes and an unobstructed view of the milky-way at night. I find myself frequently engaged in conversations with other transplanted Oregonians and I am often struck by the fact that although each of us has tread our own unique and winding path through life, we have all arrived at the same destination and thus must be kindred spirits in one way or another. Recently, however, I was introduced to a woman who I at first considered an unlikely variety of transplant; a Hollywood actress. I couldn't imagine how a famous and accomplished woman, accustomed to the glitz and glamour of Beverly Hills could find contentment in a garden of peonies and oak trees. How could she substitute a spotlight for starlight? How, I wondered, could she could be a kindred spirit? I decided to find out. In a moment of reckless courage, I humbly asked Ms. Marlyn Mason, Hollywood actress and award winning film writer if I might interview her. She immediately and graciously said, "Of course, just let me know when!"
I was stunned and more than a little intimidate, I hadn't really expected her to say yes. I hastily set up dinner plans for the following week and seven days later I sat, anxiously reviewing my interview questions while I awaited her arrival. As Marlyn approached the table my nerves eased as she greeted me like an old friend. She had the sparkling energy of a twenty year old girl and the beauty and grace of a forty year old woman that made it tough to believe she was born in 1940. My pre-rehearsed interview was quickly highjacked by a more natural flowing conversation guided deftly by Marlyn's keen storytelling skills. Indeed, Marlyn might as well have been Scheherazade bringing a thousand and one stories to life in front of my eyes in a way that only an actress of the highest caliber can. I was mesmerized. She described to me how her passion for acting was ignited at just 5 years old when she sang Santa Clause is Coming to Town on stage in 1945. She said the joyful faces of the audience thrilled her and she knew she wanted to pursue a life on stage. She diligently studied piano and dance lessons while other little children in the neighborhoods of San Fernando Valley played in the sandboxes and playgrounds and by 1949, Marlyn had her first acting gig. She had a slot on the popular television show The Doye O'Dell Show, where she wore little felt cowboy costumes handmade by a family friend. She was paid in popcorn and thought it was quite a nice paycheck for a nine year old. Marlyn recalled the first time she saw the gates of Paramount Studio as a child and was determined that one day she would work there. She remembered being particularly motivated to continue acting when she once watched a scene being filmed at the Mission in San Fernando Valley, which showcased the exotic Isabelita, a tragic Spanish beauty in white lace dress with blood red lips. Marlyn's vision for herself did indeed come true, she moved into her own apartment the day after graduating high school and began a film career at Paramount and MGM Studios. By age 23 she found herself once again at the Mission in San Fernando Valley, however, this time it was she and not Isabelita the camera was focused on in the TV series The Lieutenant.
Marlyn's career continued to soar and she played a wide range of characters on TV series such as Longstreet, Brigadoon, Big Country, The Odd Couple, The Bob Newhart Show and Carnival to name a few. Amongst her most recognized lead roles, Marlyn played opposite Elvis Presley in The Trouble With Girls where she played a feisty, powerful female role dedicated to doing the right thing. (It is an admirable character trait portrayed by the real life Marlyn as well.) She described Elvis as being the prettiest man she ever saw, Peter Ustinov as being one of the most generous men she'd ever met and revealed that Bruce Lee changed her philosophical views when he took her by the shoulders and spoke these 3 words of wisdom: "What is, is." Each story Marlyn shared with me made me respect her more; she had a certain rawness and authenticity that can be difficult to find in today's world. She pulled no punches as she described the hot retort she'd had in mind to say in response to a costar's unwanted wandering hands. When I asked her if she felt exploited or treated unfairly as a woman in Hollywood, I watched her back straighten and saw her chin lift in defiance as she replied, "Oh no, I think most men knew by my behavior what I would not tolerate." I had to grin, I would wager to bet that was a true statement. Marlyn's roles in film and TV were too numerous to even begin to cover in a single interview and we fast forwarded our conversation to discuss her immigration from California to Oregon. Marlyn described her move to Medford 25 years ago as an intention to retire from film and for a brief time she did. She had always had a green thumb and a knack for Feng shui and she devoted a year to designing a beautiful garden and even worked at a local plant nursery. Marlyn's creative energy was not to be harnessed, however, and almost as quickly as she started to settle into the calmness of Oregon, another dormant talent she possessed surfaced; screenwriting. Marlyn penned, produced and starred in the award winning short, Model Rules where she portrayed a very natural, very nude artist's model. She went on to write and produce a thought provoking true story about her mother's suicide and as well writing and starring in a true-to- life story about the complications of love. If anything, Marlyn's acting career broadened during her ˜retirement'. She continues to be actively involved in film festivals around the country in addition to starring in a variety of independent films. This June Marlyn's newest film, a thriller called Besetment, is set to open. I asked Marlyn what her favorite character is to play onscreen. She replied with a glint in her eye and without hesitation, "Baaad women." After watching Besetment I concluded that not only does Marlyn enjoy playing the role of villain, but she excels at it with chilling perfection! When our four-hour interview finally ended, I found that I had barely scratched the surface of this incredible woman's life and adventures and I begged for more interview sessions. Marlyn gracefully conceded and we now have a standing dinner date on Friday nights where I act as a scribe to record her biography. Documenting the life of an actress is an honor I never expected to be granted. Getting to know such a unique transplant is a rare treat and I have struggled to put into words what makes Marlyn such a perfectly kindred spirit here in Oregon. Perhaps the empathy and intuition that makes her a great actress is also what makes her such a humble, authentic human being. Perhaps her vitality and moxie is akin to the fiery spirit of the native Oregonians. Or perhaps Marlyn belongs here because as Bruce Lee so wisely said, "What is, is."