Recently, TheTalko had the pleasure of speaking with Alex Dobrenko, actor in and creator of Distance, an interactive web series which features two separate videos for each episode. This unique film-making approach gives viewers a chance to experience both viewpoints for the main characters, Sam and Emily, who are in a long distance relationship with one another. Dobrenko was inspired to create this series after experiencing his own three-year long distance relationship with his girlfriend, makeup artist, Lauren Wilde. We chatted with the actor and creator about what it was like to have art imitate his own life, among other things.
Dobrenko told us that he was based in Austin, Texas while his girlfriend, Wilde, was in North Carolina. Currently, the couple is together in Los Angeles. He told us that he was inspired to create the series because the concept of long distance relationships is fascinating to him.
"It’s just such an illogical thing to do and yet so many people do it and why do people do it more now related to all of the technology that enables us to love somebody across the country," Dobrenko said during our exclusive interview. "But what does it actually do to that love and how does it change the ways in which we’re able to love?"
The pilot for Distance was originally created in 2015. Dobrenko informed us that the pilot was a part of South by Southwest, among other film festivals. The success and general interest from the film festivals allowed him to raise capital and eventually the entire first season was on its way.
One of the first things that we just had to know was how Dobrenko and Wilde met. They hadn't known each other long before beginning the long distance relationship. We were curious about their meeting and how that inspired such a commitment.
"We met on a film called Bloody Homecoming, a horror movie," he said. "She was doing the makeup for it and I was acting in it and that’s how we met."
He said that after they met, the long distance relationship didn't feel like a choice. Being together was something they both wanted. It just happened that they were both in the process of working hard toward their dreams and neither could relocate at the time.
We were sure that Dobrenko was approached often and asked about long distance relationships, or had people sharing stories about their own experiences. So we asked him what he thinks makes long distance relationships "worth it" in the long run.
"I mean, I think they’re worth it when the person’s worth it," he told us. "A lot of people have told me 'I was in a long distance relationship, it didn’t work out' and it’s like, well, I don’t know if that’s because of the long distance. I think most relationships don’t work out. That’s how they work. But you wouldn’t blame a normal relationship on something not working out. I think that they work when both people want them to work and when both people are ready for them and ready for that kind of commitment."
We found it pretty interesting that Dobrenko told us that the three years of distance were incredibly helpful to both him and his girlfriend. In fact, he said that he wasn't sure if their relationship would have, pardon the pun, gone the distance, if they hadn't experienced the long distance first.
"I don’t know if we would have made it had we lived in the same city because those were three years when we were both intensely pursuing our own careers and were both being very selfish in terms of what we wanted from our lives and it was really nice to have a partner who cared but wasn’t there so you had to hang out with every day," he said. "It’s useful for people who are trying really hard to focus on their own thing."
He was, however, quick to point out that long distance relationships are not ideal. He explained that no one wishes they could be in a long distance relationship.
"It’s always, well I care about this person and I guess we gotta do it," Dobrenko said. "If you care about the other person enough, it won’t feel like a choice. That’s how it was with Lauren and I. We had hung out for only a couple weeks before doing this. It was like, look, I’m not a big fan of long distance, neither are you but we don’t want this to stop so let’s give it a shot."
He also had some tips for some of our readers who might be in long distance relationships. Dobrenko said that he recommends taking things day by day and enjoying every minute, rather than seeing the long distance relationship as an overwhelming and unlucky obstacle. Considering that Dobrenko and Wilde are still together, it might not be bad advice!
You can support Dobrenko's efforts and experience all of the laughs and all of the feels of Sam and Emily's LDR right now for yourself at distancetheseries.com.