How did you get started in filmmaking?
I was young, maybe 4 or 5, but I remember it vividly. When I wasn’t acting in small productions for my church, I was putting on shows for my family. I would hop on our vacuum and do my best Jim Carrey’s Mask impressions - complete with “telling Scotty I do give a darn.” As the years progressed, I honed in my skills in school productions of one-act plays. I always knew I wanted to act and tell stories, but I didn’t know that it was something that a boy from a south Texas goat ranch could actually do for a living. I put the dream on the back burner as I went off to college. It wasn’t until my first year out of college at SXSW where I learned that people just like me were taking a risk and living their dream. That’s also where I found out about improv. Within a week, I was driving up from Austin to San Antonio multiple times a week to take part in classes. Within that year, I had gone to study at Second City - Chicago and UCB in NY, been cast in 6 or 7 productions and was once again pursuing the dream. It wasn’t until a 48hr Film Project that I realized my passion for writing and directing. Out of necessity, our small crew held multiple positions and I was writer/co-director/producer/actor. It was a lot of work, but so much fun. We ended up winning the festival and that launched me into directing, writing, and starring in everything from commercials to music videos to shorts. Everything has been leading me to Hard-ish Bodies.
How did you first get involved in Hard-ish Bodies?
I initially created Hard-ish Bodies as a live theater show. It came from my own struggles with body image and trying to find moments where I felt sexy. I found it on Halloween 2014 when I dressed up as Chris Farley from the SNL Chippendales sketch. It started as a joke, but by the end of the night I was actually feeling sexy. From that moment, I knew I wanted to share this moment and help others feel this way too. It took a while to fully form, but before I knew what was happening we put up the first live Hard-ish Bodies shows in early 2016. During the live show, I found that not only were we, as cast members, owning our bodies in a way we never had before, but audiences were connecting with these vulnerable stories in a way that took Austin by storm. After winning the B. Iden Payne Award for Outstanding Production of an Improv Show, both the cast and audiences wanted more so we brought it back to the theater. After two sell out runs of the live show, Hard-ish Bodies was ready to bring it's message of body positivity to film.
How has it’s message about body positivity affected you?
Where to start? It’s helped me in so many ways. Before starting Hard-ish Bodies I was not only insecure in my looks, but in my relationships as well. Being a part of this project has given me the confidence I was searching for on and off stage. Not to say I don’t have moments where I look in the mirror and have my doubts. We all do. But because of the audiences, fans, fellow body-positive artists, and the amazing members of this cast and crew I know I’m not alone. I feel supported because we’ve created a community revolving around the realization that you are sexy by being exactly who you are at this moment. I truly believe that simply knowing you’re not alone in your struggles can change how you feel, so I’m using Hard-ish Bodies to help spread that message. Hell, this message of body-positivity had become my mission as a storyteller. It defined me. No, it continues to "define" me and I wouldn't have it any other way.
What do you think about crowdfunding on Seed&Spark so far? Best parts? Worst parts?
I am so grateful because Seed&Spark CEO, Emily Best, has prepped me and a whole bunch of other indie filmmakers with classes, workshops, and an amazing artist-centric platform over the last couple years. Our crowdfunding manager, Elena, Taylor, our assistant crowdfunding manager, and I have been planning this campaign for months. It’s taken ton of time, but preparation is everything. the best parts is seeing it all come together. After months of hard work, it’s actually doing what it’s supposed to be doing. It’s definitely a cool feeling. Crowdfunding is also super empowering. Your future is in your own hands. The not-so-good parts about crowdfunding is how long it takes to prep. A wise woman once told me that crowdfunding can be a full time job. Sometimes it definitely feels that way. It’s also crazy trying to wrangle everyone in the same direction. As a director, I feel the need to be perfect as this, but it’s tough to do - especially when it comes to personal asks. The cast, crew, and myself have all had a bit of resistance physically asking people for money. It can sometimes seem like begging for money, but it’s all about how you approach it. If you look at is as a way to build your audience for this and for future projects, the fear of failure slowly fades away - not completely, but that’s ok. If all else fails and you still feel like you’re begging for money, ask yourself if you really want to create this. If the answer is no, don’t go through the trouble and stress. If the answer is yes, be unapologetic and pursue your art at all cost - that includes humbling yourself and being vulnerable enough to simply ask others to come along on this journey.
When do you feel your sexiest?
I feel my sexiest when my hair is perfectly quaffed and I’m getting to do what I love in front of a camera.
If your character could give you life advice, what would they say?
The only way to be perfect is to be perfectly you.
A long way from his upbringings on a goat ranch, Mike Carreon is one of Austin’s up-and-comers in the comedy and film scene. Having been described as “Jack Black meets Matthew McConaughey,” Mike has a leading man’s charm with a character actor’s features. Mike is a Talent Brand Strategist for a Fortune 500 company and has the honor of being a Huffington Post Contributor. He is an award-winning storyteller on both stage and screen that has honed his skills in Austin, Texas as a director, writer, producer, and actor. When he's not fighting for body-positivity, you can find him bbq-ing on his back porch and looking for one-of-a-kind prints and other finds at craft markets.