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Q&A: “My Ruined Life” creator Lee Porter

MRL bench
Lee Porter’s a busy guy. On the web. In addition to being heavily involved at the Azuka Theatre (”The Off-Broad Street Theater”), he’s been whipping up Web series’ galore and his pièce de résistance is about to debut its third season. To kick it off, he’s hosting a really bangin’ Underground Arts party on Wednesday night to get the word out and celebrate the third season’s launch. We cornered him to get some questions answered.

Season Three! Gotta say you guys have a great lil’ site that’s all clean and functional and user-friendly. Plug that web designer! Right now!
Indeed, we take great pride that our website is 100-percent original and slick. Web designing credit goes to my dear friend Mark Sokoloff, and our current coder is Paul Impellizeri, who also plays bass for the Philly band Wild Rompit.

How’d the idea for this series come about? Did you come up with that tagline, “Life is full of benches and theories. When your life is ruined, you sit on a lot of them?”
I had already come up with the name My Ruined Life when I was in Rittenhouse Square, and the bench idea came to me. Each episode is filmed on a different bench in Philly, featuring many of this city’s beautiful, diverse neighborhoods. It’s fun to recognize the neighborhoods and benches, which I scouted when going for a run or by recommendations from friends. The basic “plot” of MRL is friends meeting on benches and complaining about their “ruined” lives. Yes, I came up with our tagline, and the deeper message is “As bad as you think you have it, life really isn’t that bad at all. So, let’s laugh at ourselves instead.”

MRL crewSure looks like maybe you guys have been actors and writers who’ve been in and out of service work. I would know absolutely nothing about that (Kidding: I, in fact, know all too well that shitty hellish cycle).
We all wear a lot of different hats, you could say, but that’s usually the life of the artist, isn’t it? For more info about our talented MRL family/team, check out our website for full bios of everyone involved.

Have you seen other web series online that have inspired you? Have you seen The Outs, by chance? It definitely seems like there’s lots of growth potential in the idea of a “sophisticated” web series.
The web series is an interesting art. I think the difficult thing is expanding your audience. Today’s average attention span seems to be so short. Plus, there are millions of online programing choices. I’m confident that if you stick with it, and get just a little luck, people will eventually tune in. My favorite Web series have included smaller budget stuff, like Old Friends (whose team helped me get started with my first project fb4h.com) and Clark & Michael and larger projects, like Burning Love.

Do you guys shoot a whole season of episodes in one ambitious day or week?
Yes, for budgetary reasons, we film and power-through each MRL season in two straight days. Our production team has grown so much stronger over the years. So, we’ve expanded from eight unique videos the first season to 13 unique videos in Season Two. This new third season consists of 16 unique videos filmed in just two days.

So what’s up with the big kick-off event? TJ Kong (& The Atomic Bomb) and Work Drugs are great bands! How’d you get connected to those dudes (Dan & Nero, anyway)?
We couldn’t ask for a better lineup for our release party! I have been a huge fan of TJ Kong & the Atomic Bomb for four-some years now. I chatted with TJ Kong (aka Dan Bruskewicz) a few times and started reading at his monthly Writers Night in America at Jose Pistola’s. Now we’re good friends. I met Work Drugs’ Nero Catalano through my talented actor friend Davy Raphaely, who starred in my online project ProjectWink.com. I described how I envisioned our MRL theme song sounding like via email, and Nero did the rest. It’s a brilliant song, and Nero will be performing it live at our upcoming Underground Arts party.

Based on my experience in Philly, good people with creative minds always end up good friends, and that’s part of the fun behind this project. We’re friends having fun, not just looking for a paycheck.

That Brian Cowden is one handsome fella. That’s not really a question so much as a statement that I wouldn’t mind you elaborating on.
Brian Cowden (aka BC) is the man. His talents are amazing. He’s got the right look, as you allude to. The sky’s the limit for this guy. I admire Brian the most for not running off to NYC or L.A. like so many talented young folk do. He’s kicking butt in the Philly theater world because he’s true to his art and believes, as do I, that today’s talent can be “discovered” anywhere.

Wanna plug something happening/comin’ up at Azuka?
I’m a member of the board of directors at Azuka Theatre, and I first discovered most of my projects’ actors, including Brian Cowden and Kristen Egermeier, at Azuka performances. Azuka Theatre is hosting free readings the week of January 13th, so swing by and check out some outstanding actors.


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