Exploring the complexities of life for gay men in West Hollywood

Exploring the complexities of life for gay men in West Hollywood

The cast of I’m Fine. Image courtesy of Dekkoo

Created by filmmaker Brandon Kirby, gay drama I’m Fine will be launching its second season on 25 January 2018.

I’m Fine examines the darker, interior lives of a group of gay friends living in the otherwise sunny neighbourhood of WeHo – West Hollywood, Los Angeles.

The series touches on subjects from Grindr to sex parties, to family and depression, while taking a fresh, honest, and humorous look at gay male relationships and friendship, and the often-blurry line between the two.

Episodes are short and punchy – no more than 11 minutes, and are designed to watch anywhere on any device.

Ahead of the launch of season two, we spoke with Brandon Kirby for a behind-the-scenes look at I’m Fine.

Are you drawing on any personal experiences to create these characters and their lives?

The original idea for the show was from my own experience, so that’s always been a small part of it. However, as the show has progressed, the characters and situations have evolved outside the reference points from my own life.

Which of these characters do you most closely identify with?

I guess the obvious answer is Nate. I get his neuroses and lack of good judgement in some situations.

I think Nate is a model of myself when I first moved to Los Angeles.

I’d like to say that I align myself more closely with Nicole now, but perhaps that’s lying to myself.

What are some of the challenges in creating a series in this format?

The main challenge for season two was shooting it all at once, over the course of eight days. We cross-boarded the entire season, so almost everything was out of order.

With such a small team, it was a herculean task to keep everything on track and organised in order to make our shoot deadline.

What was your casting process to find the core cast?

For season two, we had an incredible casting director, Leslie Wasserman, who took on the task of casting about 15 additional roles we had this season. She was amazing, and an instrumental part of the pre-production process.

The series is particularly attuned to the lives of gay men — do you think it will resonate with an audience beyond that?

Even though this is a show following the lives of gay men, I do think there are themes about friendship, dating, sex, and insecurity that are totally universal for audiences.

In my experience of watching TV, specificity makes for universality. Even if the story you’re watching doesn’t exactly reflect back your own experiences, you’re still likely to find moments and characters you relate to.

What does the series say about life for today’s gay men in West Hollywood?

For gay men living in West Hollywood, life can be very — for lack of a better word — incestuous.

When you break up with that ex who lives just two blocks down the road, you’re going to keep seeing that person, you’re going to be going to the same bars, and you’re going to be running in a similar circle — or at least tangential circles.

It’s a small world out there, I think that’s what the show says about gay culture.

What sort of feedback have you had on the series so far?

Feedback from season one has been really positive — people find Nate totally insufferable while at the same time unfortunately relatable, which was my goal. It’s holding up a mirror to our own insecurities and delusions.

We just released our season two trailer, which has also been getting some buzz, so I’m looking forward to folks finally being able to check out the new episodes.

What do you hope that people feel when watching I’m Fine?

I hope they find a bit of themselves somewhere in these characters, even if they don’t necessarily want to. It’s meant to be an honest and unflinching look at gay male friendship, which certainly isn’t always pretty. But I also hope people find the humor and warmth in these characters, too. They’re lovable messes.

What next for Brandon Kirby?

I’m in pre-production on a short I’m hoping to shoot this year, and also working on a feature-length script which I also hope to shoot before the end of the year. Of course, I’m also toying with what a third season of I’m Fine could look like.

I’m Fine is an original series from online streaming service Dekkoo.

Read more from Gareth Johnson

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