Saying Goodbye to “I’m Fine”: an interview with series creator Brandon Kirby

With the release of I’m Fine’s third and final season, everyone at Dekkoo is feeling a little bittersweet. I’m Fine was Dekkoo’s first foray into the world of original series, and we couldn’t be prouder! But all good things must come to an end, and what a way to go out! We sat down with the creator of the series, Brandon Kirby, to see if he’s really doing fine after the release of the series’ last installment.

Still from I'm Fine: Season 3

Will you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I grew up in Livonia, Michigan, and went to undergrad at Michigan State University. Shortly after graduation, I moved to L.A. in 2012 for an internship at The Hollywood Reporter. Classic L.A. move, I caught the screenwriting bug, and my career went from there. My first project was a web series I co-created with my writing partner at the time and still good friend, Jessie Katz; it was called The Exorcists, and somewhere in the bowels of YouTube, it can be found and watched. I also unfortunately star in it. The lessons learned from that project allowed me to go on and create I’m Fine.

What was your main source of inspiration for the series?

The main source of inspiration was a breakup, so a lot of the first season is based on a bad hookup I had post-breakup. Nate’s neuroses and bad decision making unfortunately mirrors my own. But once Perry Powell began to imbue Nate with his own nuances, the character evolved past any real-life touch points I had tethered the story to. Thankfully, all my actors were able to bring even more to their characters than I had anticipated, so I’m Fine as a series was quickly able to evolve beyond being semi-autobiographical despite many characters, situations, and even dialogue being pulled directly from my real life. These close ties to reality quickly dissipate by season two as the show’s storylines morphed and evolved into something greater.

Can you tell us a little about the inspiration for the title and how you decided on it?

In college, I would say “I’m fine” in a really weird, high-pitched, obviously not-fine tone, and it became a running joke with my friends. As I was writing the first episode, the title sort of came naturally from that.

Still from I'm Fine: Season 3

What was it like bringing other writers onto the show for the last season?

They brought a lot of new perspectives and experiences to the show. For example, in the third episode of season three, we wanted to continue exploring Jeff’s issues of identity, so Clay Pruitt tackled that episode working on a story concept from Lee Doud who plays Jeff. And for the sixth episode—written by Michael Varrati—it’s the story of two older gay men courting younger men at a bar. Varrati wanted to bring that specific perspective to the episode to put a discussion of the gay generational divide into our final season.

What was the casting process like for such a strong ensemble show?

It all started through friends and friends of friends. Perry Powell (Nate) came recommended through our Director of Photography—Andrew Ceperley—and then Lee Doud (Jeff) came through our producer—Albert Payano. From there, Brittney King (Nicole) and Richard Stokes (Andy) were also recommended through Perry, and Ulysses Morazan (Brian) came recommended through another season-one producer—Abram Cerda. As we got into season two, we brought on our amazing casting director, Leslie Wasserman, who stayed with us through the process of casting seasons two and three. She’s been an absolute godsend, and we couldn’t have successfully done our last two seasons without her!

How does it feel to have seen these characters grow from season one to season three?

It’s been a really wild experience seeing how much they’ve grown. I think each character goes on a relatable journey of self discovery, and the direction these characters take is largely owed to the actors bringing them to life. Thanks to them, the characters have gone places I never expected.

Throughout the series, there was an emphasis not only on romantic relationships but on platonic ones and ones where the lines blurred a little as well. Why did you decide to showcase this broad spectrum of relationships?

Since the show’s starting-off point was a breakup, my goal was to not entirely focus on romantic relationships. As the series began, I was much more interested in exploring gay male relationships—namely friendships—that sometimes enter the gray area of more than friends. I think that’s something so specific to gay men where if you’re friends, there’s always the possibility that one person might see the other as something more. And that’s where Nate and Jeff find their friendship headed in season two, and then they have to walk it back, deal with the falling out of one of them having feelings, and then land back in the realm of friendship.

Still from I'm Fine: Season 3

What would 15-year-old Brandon Kirby say about seeing something like I’m Fine on screen?

He would be shocked because 15-year-old me didn’t even have moving to L.A. on his radar. To see that his future self wrote and directed a show, he would be stunned. He probably would’ve gained a lot from it.

What do you think queer viewers will gain from this series?

I want them to see themselves and know that queer stories don’t all have to be tragic. Queer characters can exist in storytelling and media by just being themselves, living their lives, and fucking things up just like any other characters they might see in media.

What’s the main message you’d like your readers to walk away with after seeing I’m Fine?

We’re always growing, and we’re always on a journey. As queer people, we’re always trying to find our tribe, and the journey of self-identity is forever ongoing. We’re constantly redefining ourselves, changing our paths and friendships, and that’s okay. It’s all part of growing up, and sometimes, that means growing apart. I think that’s especially true for transplants moving to new cities and even more true for queer people. It’s all about finding your people, and sometimes, you have to go through a few rounds of figuring out what you want before you can land on what truly makes you happy.

How does it feel to have completed the third and final season of the show?

It feels bittersweet. I knew season three was the time to end the series, but it’ll definitely be weird not returning to these characters. The cast and crew feels the same way, but we’ll always have the friendships and the I’m Fine family we made along the way. Personally, it feels like I’m closing the chapter on that “Nate chapter” of my life, and so it’s a timely and fitting end.

Can you tell us something that was challenging about filming the series?

Budget is always something you’re fighting against when it comes to small projects such as this. Cutting corners, calling in favors, and finding every opportunity to save money is the name of the game.

Still from I'm Fine: Season 3

Can you share one of your favorite moments or memories on set?

On set during the filming of season three, we were shooting a nighttime pool scene, and our director—Andrew Ceperley—was setting up for the shot but wasn’t satisfied with the angle he was getting. The two characters were sitting with their feet dangling in the pool, so straight-on shots were limited since there was a body of water in front of them. But that didn’t stop Andrew from fully getting in the water to film the entire scene. He didn’t even take the time to take his jeans off, let alone his socks or shoes. It was a moment of pure dedication, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

How does it feel to have I’m Fine featured on Dekkoo?

I’m so thankful it’s on a platform like Dekkoo, dedicated to telling exclusively queer stories. I hope being on here allows the show to reach more people!

Do you have any new projects you’re currently working on?

I have a short film also starring Lee Doud (Jeff) called Is This a Date? that’s currently in post-prod and will premiere on Dekkoo either later this year or early next. I also have a queer horror short, The More the Scarier, that will land on Dekkoo this Halloween. The production company I have with Michael Varrati called June Gloom Productions also has a short, The Office is Mine, that will be hitting the festival circuit this fall. We also have many more queer horror-genre stories in the works!

Where can we find you online?

You can find me on Twitter and Instagram. You can also find I’m Fine on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

You can watch the third and final season of I’m Fine right now, available for streaming on Dekkoo!

New This Week – 7/25/19

In the third and final season of the Dekkoo-original series, Nate has at last put Joey behind him and moves forward in his career and friendships. That is, until an opportunity presents itself that makes him question everything he knows about L.A. All the while Jeff, Andy, Nicole and Mick navigate what it is they want and need in order to finally feel…fine.

The new season of ‘I’m Fine’ is available to binge-watch now!

Two men meet for a passionate sexual encounter that ends up getting far more personal than either had imagined. Tackling issues of self-image, the prescribed sexual roles of gay men and notions of masculinity, this short film shows what happens when two attractive young guys cut through all the sexual tension and really start getting intimate. Dekkoo Films presents ‘Rubber Dolphin’.

The Pink Angels’ is an outlaw-biker movie from 1971 about a gang of gay bikers on their way to a ball to compete as drag queens. B-movie gold and, considering it was released in the early 70’s, treats its LGBTQ+ characters with respect.

___________________

Coming next week: Two hot guys. Two smoking guns. One helluva ride.

I’m Fine: The Final Season is coming to Dekkoo July 25th!!!

A fresh, honest and laugh-out-loud-hilarious exploration of modern gay relationships, friendships and the blurry line between the two, I’m Fine is a positively charming original “pocket series” from Dekkoo. We’re proud to announce that all episodes of Season 3, the official Final Season, are coming to Dekkoo on July 25th!

The Cast of I'm Fine, a Dekkoo Original Series

Created by Brandon Kirby, an up-and-coming filmmaker with strong ties to the world of gay-themed cinema and television, the first season on I’m Fine centers around the recent demise of a gay relationship – finding both humor and poignancy within the related pathos.

The beginning of the series finds Nate (Perry Powell), an attractive 20-something, still hopelessly obsessed with his aloof ex-boyfriend Joey (Shaughn Buchholz). He also ends up blurring the lines between friendship and romance with his best friend Jeff (Lee Doud).

Still from I'm Fine: The Final Season, a Dekkoo Original Series

Season Two picked up a few weeks after Season One – with Nate is continuing to move on from his breakup with Joey while simultaneously dealing with the fallout of sleeping with Jeff. There’s also a surplus of lovable supporting characters with their own romantic trials and tribulations – namely Richard Stokes and Ulysses Morazan as the coupled Andy and Brian.

Still from I'm Fine: The Final Season, a Dekkoo Original Series

Featuring crisp writing and direction and terrific performances from a culturally diverse cast, the series has garnered near countless clicks from subscribers and earned stellar reviews from Dekkoo users. It’s the gay rom-com gift that keeps on giving.

Check out the trailer for I’m Fine: The Final Season below. Also make sure to watch (or re-watch) the first two seasons before the new one comes along later this month. Both are available now on Dekkoo!

Production of ‘I’m Fine’ Season 3 underway!

Brandon Kirby, creator of the Dekkoo-original series ‘I’m Fine’, sent us two photos this morning from this past weekend’s table read for the upcoming season of ‘I’m Fine’.

As we previously reported, ‘I’m Fine’ returns to Dekkoo in 2019. Season 3 is currently in production around the Los Angeles area.

I'm Fine Season 3 Table Read
From top left: Ryan Fisher, Alise Willis, Andrew Ceperley (DP/director), Brandon Kirby (showrunner), Michael Varrati (writer/producer), Albert Payano (writer/producer), Clay Pruitt (writer/producer), Paloma Rabinov, Maria Lingbanan, Kylie Sparks, Frankie Rodriguez, Brittney King.

I'm Fine Season 3 Table Read
Clockwise from left: Monson Douglas (sound mixer), RJ Aguiar, Perry Powell (“Nate”/director), Lee Doud, Richard Stokes, Will Gressman, Clay Pruitt (writer/producer), Michael Varrati (writer/producer), Brandon Kirby (showrunner), Albert Payano (writer/producer), Peter Wylie, Geoffrey Kennedy, Jennifer DeFilippo (writer/director), Frankie Rodriguez

Watch I’m Fine Season 1 on Dekkoo!

Watch I’m Fine Season 2 on Dekkoo!

‘I’m Fine’ Season 3 begins pre-production!

Season 3 of the Dekkoo-original series, ‘I’m Fine’ is currently in pre-production with filming set to begin next month in and around the city of Los Angeles.

Writer/Director Brandon Kirby sent us this little tease photo this morning and our hearts went all aflutter!

New episodes of ‘I’m Fine’ will arrive in 2019.

Watch ‘I’m Fine’ Season 1 on Dekkoo.com

Watch ‘I’m Fine’ Season 2 on Dekkoo.com

New This Week – 1/26/18

02de8279-2d59-41c4-b132-984e6524d3cc-ef1b507e

In season 2 of the acclaimed Dekkoo-original series, Nate decides it’s time to move on from his breakup with Joey…but Nate’s fall-out with his best friend Jeff continues to loom. Meanwhile, Nicole is back in town on the hunt for a new career move, Andy takes control of his open relationship with Brian, and Jeff finds companionship in someone new. Turns out they might be the ones who are fine after all, while Nate still only claims to be. Watch season 2 of ‘I’m Fine’ only on Dekkoo!

This is an image from the gay movie, l'Homme Blesse

In this award-winning erotic 1983 classic from acclaimed French director Patrice Chéreau, a young man discovers his homosexuality and begins a relationship with a manipulative hustler and petty criminal that he meets at the train station. Watch ‘L’Homme Blesse’ on Dekkoo.com!

This is an image from the gay short film 'Midnight'

A gay couple decide to experiment with an open relationship but can their relationship survive it? Watch the gay short film ‘Midnight’ now on Dekkoo!

____________________________

Coming next week: A heartfelt look at the meaning of love.

 

DEKKOO DISPATCH 055 – ‘I’M FINE SEASON 2’

Title – ‘I’m Fine – Season 2

Director – Brandon Kirby

Starring – Perry Powell, Lee Doud, Shaughn Buchholz, Brittney King, Richard Stokes, Ulysses Morazan

Release Date – 2018

______________________

Today is a very exciting day in the Dekkoo-universe! ‘I’m Fine‘ Season 2 launches worldwide right now!!! At Dekkoo we truly believe in the power of gay filmmakers that tell stories about their communities and ‘I’m Fine‘ is the perfect example of that. Brandon Kirby lives in West Hollywood, CA (considered by many to be the mecca of gay life on this planet!) and he plumbs the depths of the craziness and camaraderie that goes on there to create a series that contains plentiful amounts of laughs and feels.

IMG_3034

 

Alright so let’s do a quick recap of Season 1! :Spoilers ahead:
Meet Nate. Nate’s your average ‘figuring out life post-college’ Angeleno living in West Hollywood. He’s trying to get over his breakup with Joey with the help of his fab friends: Jeff, Brian, Andy, and Nicole. Jeff is adorable and has a crush on Nate, Brian and Andy are a couple that have their share of spats and Nicole is the party girl that glues them all together. At the end of the first season Nate has a big fight with Jeff after a drunken hookup that Nate wasn’t into with the result of Jeff being completely pissed at Nate.

We enter Season 2 at the same place we ended Season 1 – with a sunset smothered view on the top of the Hollywood mountains. All seems… strangely peaceful. Nate’s life up until now never seemed this serene. Enter Mick. An adorable button of a twink, he claims to have just moved there and would love make some new gay friends. Nate, although taken aback by such an open and honest proposition (not seen very often in LA) appears taken by Mick and agrees to meet up later on. Nate’s journey in this season seems to me to be a journey of forgiveness. He’s made a lot of mistakes and he knows he won’t find happiness (in the form of Mick perhaps?) until he receives forgiveness from everyone including himself.

IMG_3095

But! This season is about a wholeeee lot more than Nate this time around. The bffs from  last season are not about to be merely supporting characters. No! This time we get full blown storylines with each and every one of them. Brian and Andy go to a sex party, Jeff has a hilariously bad blind date, and Nicole apparently was once in a lesbian relationship?!? We also get to meet a lot of new characters: Nate’s sexy roommates, his parents and sister, a sexy latino hunk at a pool party, and many more! There’s also a very long and hilarious post-credits scene hidden after the credits in episode 7 so make sure to stick around for that.

We really hope you binge the heck out of Season 2 and we’d of course love for you to tell all of your friends about it and encourage them to join Dekkoo. We love bringing original gay stories to life, but it takes the support of a community to do it!

IMG_3097

 

___________________________

Watch it with: Your friends that you watched Season 1 with!

Mix it with: Mimosas of course!

____________________________