By Georgetta L. Morque
Director, writer, comedian, and actor Matt Porter, who grew up in Rye, returned to the area last week for the screening of his first feature film, “5 DOCTORS”, at the Greenwich International Film Festival. Afterwards, he and his collaborators spoke to an enthusiastic audience about the project.
The comedy is about struggling Los Angeles comedian and hypochondriac Spencer, played by co-writer/co-director Max Azulay, who travels cross-country to his hometown to see all five of his childhood doctors in one day. Porter, co-writer/co-director, plays the role of Jay, a townie who chauffeurs Spencer around. The film, which has a deeper emotional component, reveals the complications of returning home.
Porter’s mother, Gail Topol, an Osborn School teacher, and the mothers of the other filmmakers each play a small part in the movie. Filmed in Hastings-on-Hudson in 2015, “5 DOCTORS” premiered at the Austin Film Festival last fall. Joining Porter and Azulay in the endeavor are Phil Primason, co-writer/executive producer, Joe Greco, producer, Aaron Kogan, executive producer, and Josh Rabinowitz, co-producer, also from Rye. Porter said making the film was like starting a small business really fast. “Every step of the way was a profound learning experience.” Now, the goal is for the film to be released digitally.
Porter was introducted to video production at Rye Middle School where he and his friends, Danny McCabe, Danny Jones, and Rabinowitz, produced “The Danny McCabe Show,” their version of “Saturday Night Live”, at the RyeTV studio. “It was a lot of fun,” recalled Porter. “It was the first time I was given the opportunity to film, edit, and write.” A movie and TV buff, he was immediately hooked.
Porter went on to Fieldston and NYU Tisch School of the Arts where he honed his craft alongside many other talented students. After graduating from NYU in 2010, he taught film at Fieldston. While he loved teaching, and is the son of two teachers — his dad, Lewis Porter, teaches jazz studies at Rutgers University — he decided to take a risk and work independently.
“With the pressure of the real world at your doorstep, you stop making things,” said Porter. So, he returned to filmmaking.
Porter, who lives in New York City, has been writing, directing, and starring in many narrative short films which have cultivated a following online and have since been screened at film festivals across the country. He juggles many projects, including with writer/cartoonist Charlie Hankin the online comedy sketch series, “GOOD COP GREAT COP”, which was selected by the New York Television Festival. The pair has also performed live at various comedy festivals. Porter is the co-star, co-director, and co-writer of the Comedy Central web series “NEW TIMERS”. He’s found that one project leads to another.
“It’s a crazy industry,” said Porter, “but I’m lucky to work with good people and have the ability to take risks and the freedom to fail.”
Photo by Sasha Arutyunova