Sponsored: ‘It’s about a 20-something gay man, living in West Hollywood, dealing with the repercussions of a breakup. That’s essentially it,’ director Brandon Kirby summed up his new series I’m Fine.
‘Because the catalyst of everything that happens to him is a breakup, but it becomes much more than that.
‘It becomes about his own neuroses and dealing with his own shit, and really… it’s not about the breakup, it’s really about his own shit he has to deal with.’
Born and raised in Michigan, Brandon is now based in LA.
His writing career started in a different direction, though.
Originally, the director wanted to become an entertainment journalist – a film critic, to be precise. It was a high-profile internship which led him to Los Angeles.
‘Right out of college, I got an internship with the Hollywood Reporter,’ Brandon said.
‘Never having been to LA before, never having been further West than Chicago, I just decided this is something I have to do.’
Thanks to the intervention of a good friend Brandon is now writing and directing his own web series, called I’m Fine, rather than writing about it.
‘She was like “No, you should be a screen writer”,’ he said.
‘So she became my writing partner for the first web series I made.’
Brandon said he ‘probably would’ve reached the conclusion myself at some point’, but his friend’s encouragement helped.
As for the inspiration behind I’m Fine, Brandon said he partly drew on his own experiences.
‘The nugget of the idea came from a hookup I had, that semi-based off the hookup Nate has in the pilot episode,’ he said.
‘So I had that experience, and I just wrote it. I wrote it as a short, showed it to that friend.
‘I showed her and she said “This isn’t a short, this is a series”. And I said “yeah, you’re right”.’
From the initial hook-up scene, Brandon then built the world for I’m Fine.
But beyond main character Nate’s breakup, and his struggle to come to terms with everything, the series also takes a close look at friendship.
‘Filmmakers and TV shows like Broad City exploring female friendships in this very honest way, in terms of like… even for females there is that fine line between friendship and just relationship,’ Brandon said.
‘And that’s been starting to get word in female friendship, and I wanted to explore that in gay, specifically gay male, friendship, because there is such a fine line.’
I’m Fine was, in parts, inspired by the end of Looking, but there is a distinct difference.
‘It’s more cynical, and I’m trying to be as honest as possible,’ he said.
‘I think in terms of looking at friendships, I wasn’t so much using Looking as an inspiration as much as Frances Ha, the Noel Baumbach film.’
And of course, Brandon said he had made the experience many gay men make – that a first date very often turns into friendship, rather than a relationship.
‘We’re gay men, and we’re all, we’re meeting… two of my best friends I met on Tinder. And that’s a thing exclusive to the gay world,’ he said.
’In, like, meeting for the first time as a date, but then you realize no, we’re not romantic, we’re going to be friends.
‘But you could still have, you know, some underlying attraction because the first meeting was a date. And maybe the one person decided “no, we’re friends”, but what if the other person is like “oh yeah, you’re right, we are friends, but if my friend was magically interested – yeah, I’d go for it”?
‘So I feel like during these, there is a lot of gray area.’
Despite it all, Brandon said he is ‘trying to put himself out there’, with the goal of finding a relationship.
‘It’s basically a numbers game,’ he said.
‘That’s what you have to do – it’s almost like a part-time job, dating.’
In terms of filming, his biggest challenge was not to find a team, but the actual realization of his plans.
With a limited budget, Brandon said they shot the pilot in a single day. He had forgotten about that fact, but his Director of Photography reminded him.
‘I swore it was two days,’ he said.
‘But I guess the main challenge is [that] we do try to keep it to one day per episode,’ Brandon said.
‘Because we were on a very tight budget and people have paid jobs.’
Dekkoo is describing I’m Fine as their first take-it-with-you ‘pocket series’: none of the episodes is longer than 10 minutes.
‘‘The vision was something very digestible in a short period of time,’ Brandon said.
‘But it was also in the way we worked, in the beginning.’
The first four episodes of I’m Fine start streaming on Dekkoo on 19 April; episodes five to eight will follow on 21 June.