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FEBRUARY 2017 • 11


Event Brings Writer Home to New Mexico Medoff student to receive award in Las Cruces


eturning for another year, the Las Cruces International Film Festival is bringing film community from across the country together for a fabulous affair from March 8 to 12. Hollywood comedy writer/ producer will return to New Mexico where he attended high school and went on to be a theater student with Mark Medoff at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces from 1978-81. Foster is traveling to Las Cruces in the company of one of the stars he worked extensively with, Johnny Galecki, of “Big Bang Theory” fame. Galecki and Foster will be participating in the LCIFF in a panel discussion together. Foster will be accepting the Mark Medoff Outstanding Achievement in Entertainment Writing Award. “Writing is my passion,” Foster said. “It’s what drives everything else I do in the television business.” He said comedy television is different from film in that it is the writers who create the shots and are called executive producers. in film, the director calls the shots. In television, the writer gets to make all the decisions. The buck stops at the writing executive producer.” In 1990, Foster, coming from an improv culture, had the opportunity to write for the “Rosanne” show. He found with the improv theater experience, he flourished in the writing team situation comedies are created in. Foster called Medoff from Los Angeles. “He was so excited because he was just hired on the Rosanne show,” Medoff said. “During all the time he was struggling and successful in LA, he has remained an absolutely wonderful human being.” After the “Rosanne” show, Foster worked on a number of projects including “The Louie Show” with Brian Cranston in 1995. From 1997 to 2002, Foster wrote for and worked his way up to executive producing “Dharma & Greg.” Then there was “Two and a Half Men,” “Big Bang Theory” and “Mike & Molly.” Foster thrives in the situation comedy atmosphere. The shows are still put together the same way they were in Dick Van Dyke days. Dubbed multi-camera shows, cast,

writers and crew pull together during the week, rehearsing. Then, the show is shot in one day, sometimes in Don Foster front of a live audience. “You make changes all the while, throw new lines at them,” Foster said. “The audience is the test audience. If they laugh, you know it’s going well.” Foster said he has the best job in the world. “I haven’t had all the jobs in the world,” he said. “But I would be hard pressed to imagine a job that was better than this. It’s about smart, creative, interesting people creating the best possible production. Long hours are a small price to pay for the best job in the world.” But he also writes for himself every day, by himself. He has a lot of projects he does for himself, he said. One of the things he has his focus on is a project featuring the desert Southwest prominently. “I grew up primarily in the desert Southwest, which is why I still think of New Mexico as my home even though I’ve been in LA for 26 years,” Foster said. “It is without a doubt a factor in who I am.” When he watched television as a child, observing and learning, everything was set in Los Angeles or New York or some fictitious Midwest town. The Southwest was overlooked as a setting, and now he intends to change that. New Mexico State University changed the trajectory of Foster’s life as a young man. What was great about being a theater major in Las Cruces was the diversity of participants. “My time at NMSU was extremely formative,” he said. “There were young teens, actors, directors and writers with real-life experience and they were doing theater because they just loved it, not because it was a career move.” In the three years Foster was in the department, Medoff wrote five plays. “I saw the process start to finish and it gave me the perspective of what could be done,” he said. Then Foster moved to Minneapolis and started working in improv. Another formative

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learning experience. “Learning how to do improve comedy gave me the confidence and the skill set to write comedy weekly for a national audience,” he said. “I am proud of him as a former student,” Medoff said of Foster. “And as an adult, I am respectful of him as a creative force in the universe.”

LCIFF is cosponsored by New Mexico State University and features both a film-making contest for independent films both local and international participants, and showings of contemporary films. This year free industry workshops include acting, screenwriting, make-up, special effects, app development, film

editing and technology. An acting seminar featuring casting directors is being offered with the intent of providing area actors a chance to hear what it takes to break into the business and what casting directors are looking for in an audition. For information and tickets, visit

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