By Shawna Kenney | Indiewire August 18, 2014 at 10:01AM
A nice Midwestern guy inherits his uncle's flailing 80s-era LA strip club—complete with a drunken sex-addicted business partner (Dave Foley), vengeful kooky aunt (Tera Patrick), inventive wide-eyed Hoosier (Bree Olson) and deadpan orthopedic shoe-wearing "dancer" (Naomi Leonard), among others. "Live Nude Girls" exploits every inch of potential conflict in its "Porky's-meets-Bill-and-Ted's-Excellent-Adventure" type set-up, making for a clever comedy of errors. Fitting, considering it's the brainchild of funnyman director and co-writer Jay Leggett ("In Living Color," "Employee of the Month," etc.). Sadly, Leggett died unexpectedly in 2013 before his feature film directorial debut hit the big screen.
Co-writer, producer and lead actor Mike Hatton recently spoke to Indiewire about Leggett's final project and picking up the pieces after the departure of his friend/mentor/co-writer/director.
"Live Nude Girls" releases worldwide via Screen Media Films on August 19th and will be available on Xbox Exclusive and DVD.
There are a few adult film stars in the movie. Did you write this with them in mind or were you already connected to that world?
I did want to use adult actresses when I came up with the idea because I thought 'you're in a strip club and if you're gonna have women walking around in practically nothing, why not have ones who are completely comfortable doing it?' Also they have huge followings and fan bases and in a lot of cases mainstream filmmakers don't take them seriously. A few have—Steven Soderbergh, Kevin Smith and John Waters—but I knew who Bree Olson was and we had a meeting and she read the script and loved it, so Bree was the first person I had attached. Jay Leggett was her coach on "The Human Centipede III," too. All of them did an amazing job. They came to set, knew their lines and took direction.
What was the co-writing process with Jay like?
I had come up with the concept and had written a very loose script and when I hired Jay and talked about it he said 'let's do this and rewrite it.' I knew it needed a guy who could take it to the next level. The characters didn't change much but Jay gave it a good arc and created a lot of the background. If I did the blueprint, Jay did the colors.
How far into the project were you when he died?
We were done and we'd gone to the film market—the American Film Market. He'd gone to the meetings and went through the initial selling process with me. He passed away almost two weeks after AFM. We had been fielding offers. He had just booked another job directing a multi-episode TV series. It was terrible.
Two days after him passing away, my wife and I had twin girls—I already have a four-year-old—so it was a crazy rollercoaster of getting the movie done, the high of getting offers, then Jay passing away and then having the kids. I just shut down for a month and wrote a letter in the trades telling people to call my lawyers if they needed to talk business.
How did this affect your film, on top of the obvious grief?
We were considering making revisions for the distributors, because sometimes they want you to make changes. But when he passed away I said 'this is the director's cut and I don't want to touch it' and every distributor backed off and was understanding of that. Now if it does go to broadcast and needs editing for content to air on a TV station, then we'll go in and do that, but Jay was always on board with that. I gave Jay final cut. That was part of our deal.
What were some of the other challenges you faced in completing this film?
Every independent movie could do a documentary about the making of their movie. Ours was really crazy. The toughest thing was running the operation as the producer while acting in the lead role. I finally turned the reigns over to another producer about halfway through the shoot and it was the best decision I ever made. Although I did get pulled aside to fire one of the actresses… for smoking crack in the women's bathroom.
We had reached out to Andy Dick and got him on board as our celebrity who was going to play Harry. Then he disappeared the night before shooting. Jay and I ended up driving up to Topanga where he was living and his family said they hadn't seen him. 6 pm the night before and we have no main actor. We called our co-producer and he says 'give me a few minutes.' Midnight comes and we're six hours away from shooting and Dave Foley calls and says, "I'll take care of it" and showed up the next day. He was such a pro. It elevated us to another level. He totally saved our ass.
The actress who was originally cast as Nancy/"Boots" wasn't really working, so we reached out to Tera [Patrick] and she liked the script so we re-shot those scenes with her. We finished with the help of a successful Indiegogo campaign and re-attached Andy (who had gotten sober, thank God), Tera and Missy Martinez, then hit our goal and moved forward. Jay rewrote with a bunch of improv stuff and color-coded scripts.
When you're on a shoestring you have no choice. We knew we had a good title and cast. I've always loved 80s sex comedies so I thought this is exactly what we have.