rowing up, no one told me that I had permission to love myself just the way I am. It was the opposite. I was made fun of for being too fat, too short, too loud, and the list goes on. As a way to build up my defenses, I turned to comedy. If I could make them laugh with me, they had less time to laugh at me. This belief has never really gone away. So much so, that I’ve dedicated a good portion of my adult life to comedy and using it to help me make sense of the word around me. Having studied at UCB, Second City, and multiple Austin theaters, improv comedy is how I’ve dealt with everything from my grandfather’s death to a bad day at work to how I see myself.
So, naturally, when I was at one of my lowest lows (highest body weight) I created a comedy show... about male strippers. Like, a literal comedy show on a tiny stage in an improv theater. What I thought was a goofy idea that would serve to make me laugh and feel better about myself, turned out to be be a beacon of body positivity and male vulnerability. The diversity of cast in body and being made a statement in itself. The live show had two sold-out runs that resulted in a B. Iden Payne Award for Most Outstanding Improv Production. While the award was great, the best part has been the community we’ve built and the people we’ve impacted, even as far as Australia. Now, we have the ability to reach a wider audience by taking Hard-ish Bodies from stage to screen and I couldn’t be more excited.
The Hard-ish Bodies story has evolved many times since “finishing” the first version of the script back in November of 2016. We’ve had to cut almost five minutes from the original script to get the film to tell only one story — Mitch’ story. His capture, his dance, his escape, his return was the story. While the film would be a comedy following a male stripper, I still wanted to take this opportunity to say something meaningful… so I said nothing at all. I never wanted to give an explanation as to why a plus-size man was a male stripper. I wanted the audience to take it as fact of this reality. Since figuring that out, Hard-ish Bodies has become what I always knew it could be.
Hard-ish Bodies is the first film where I had the time to develop every element so I wanted to get it right. Taking visual elements from neon noir and smashing them together with situational comedy, Hard-ish Bodies is “Magic Mike” in a “Breaking Bad” world. Visually it had to be gritty and real, but also fantastically absurd. Action movies like Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, John Wick, and Birman provided a solid foundation of gritty, somewhat-comedic worlds, while films like Bladerunner, Susperia, Atomic Blonde, Neon Demon, and Showgirls inspired me to lead with neon ambiance whenever possible. For comedic inspiration and timing, I looked at the Lampoons, both Ace Ventura movies, Tommy Boy, Anchorman, Nacho Libre, and, of course, Magic Mike XXL. Throughout Hard-ish Bodies, I even got to pay and include homages to Taxi Driver, Planes Trains and Automobiles, The Graduate, WWE’s Razor Ramon, and even Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Wait...what!? Yup. One of our actors is a Buffy Alum so we had to put a Buffy easter egg in the film. Can you spot it?
In early 2017, we launched a crowdfunding campaign on Seed&Spark. With the help of our 500+ supporters, we raised over $12k and earned a Filmmaker Giftbox through Seed&Spark that has an assortment of in-kind gifts and discounted services. Unfortunately, at the end of our campaign, close to $1,000 of contributions did not come through and our largest donor was not able to deliver on her $4,000 contribution. It was a huge blow to our project and our morale. It took us (a lengthy) six months to regroup and come up with a plan. In that time, scheduling forced us to switch production companies which meant we lost the previously mentioned in-kind contributions. Even with these losses, crowdfunding was still a huge success. We were still had enough to see the project though as far as production. Thankfully, Revelator’s Chris Ohlson (Damsel, Mr. Roosevelt, Kumiko) stepped in, offering to produce Hard-ish Bodies and stretch the remaining budget through the finished version of Hard-ish Bodies you'll get to see soon.
I can't thank Chris, Matt Muir, E.J. Eriquez, Stephanie Moore, Rolando Romero, and the hundred of other supporters that contributed their time, money, attention, expertise and so much more to make Hard-ish Bodie a reality. My only hope is giving you a finished film you can be proud of. So, I guess we'll see -