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CMI receives $50,000 to help new Medoff film project

The Creative Media Institute for Film and Digital Arts (CMI) at New Mexico State University has received $50,000 to help launch Mark Medoff's new film project, "Refuge."



Mark Medoff, artistic director, Creative Media Institute for Film and Digital Arts (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

"Refuge" is an adaptation of "RV (Recogito Vercordia)," a play written by Medoff, CMI artistic director. The play, which was performed this summer in Santa Fe, is about a young high school teacher who finds a nurse holding a gun over the corpse of her (the nurse's) late policeman husband. The nurse kidnaps the teacher and through the magic of theatre, the dead husband, the teacher's absent fiancée and a mortician's assistant join the nurse and the teacher.

Mark MedoffRichard Davimos, certified financial planner, senior vice president of wealth management, and one of the founders of Smith Barney, Inc., donated the gift to NMSU. Known for his philanthropy, Davimos also has pledged $1 million to the American Jewish Committee and, as a member of the Board of Florida Atlantic University Foundation, permanently funds yearly scholarships for three pre-law students at Lafayette College, Pa. Also, he is a major contributor to the Centre for the Arts at Mizner Park in Boca Raton, Fla., and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Boca Raton Museum of Art.

Davimos has now turned his attention to film and digital arts.

"For 26 years, Richard Davimos has been a man of unimpeachable integrity and more: family friend, benefactor, fulcrum of a network of incredible investment counselors, and adviser to a number of my students and family," Medoff said.

Medoff has a second benefactor for the project, a couple waiting for him to compile a budget.

"Refuge" was co-written as a play by Medoff and NMSU English professor Phil Treon. Medoff said converting the play into a movie allowed him "to tighten the story and to focus on the character relationships."

Also, by shooting the film in this area, he is helping repay the beneficence of NMSU and Las Cruces.

"The university and city have always been generous in supporting my activities," Medoff said. "For that reason, it's very important to me to shoot anything I can on the campus and around the Las Cruces area. Now that we have the Film Technician Training Program (FTTP) at NMSU, the support of IATSE (the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employes) and the New Mexico Film Commission and their incentives, it's economically feasible to shoot a low budget feature in southern New Mexico. 'Refuge' is a movie on which I can use many of our FTTP graduates and current students as well as New Mexico union members to mentor those students and graduates. I can also shoot within 10 miles of my house."

Most of the major characters will be cast from among performers Medoff has taught at NMSU and Florida State University.

"Part of what we want to do at CMI is discover talent in front of and behind the camera and move that talent into the public eye," he said, adding that filming should begin in the spring of 2007.

"CMI will waste no time in getting 'Refuge' off the ground," Medoff said.