Brandon Dermer and Alisha Ketry on the Making of I’m Totally Fine
Dec 28, 2022
Home Interviews Exclusive: Brandon Dermer and Alisha Ketry on the Making of I’m Totally Fine
Director Brandon Dermer and writer Alisha Ketry discuss the making of their new comedy I’m Totally Fine, available on November 4, 2022.
Vanessa (Jillian Bell) is mourning the death of her best friend Jennifer (Natalie Morales). She decides to take a trip for self-care but is quickly interrupted when shortly into it, she wakes to Jennifer in her kitchen, claiming she’s an alien sent to study the human species.
I’m Totally Fine also stars Blake Anderson, Harvey Guillén, and Kyle Newacheck. It’s written by Alisha Ketry and directed by Brandon Dermer.
“I want people to have a good time but also take away the real human message that’s within this film, which is that it’s okay to not be okay, and to live in those moments and experience them and be present no matter how hard that is,” commented Dermer.
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The Script of I’m Totally Fine
Prior to writing I’m Totally Fine, Ketry worked on projects like Fuller House and American Dad!, both widely respected and known shows. I’m Totally Fine marks her debut feature and was inspired by COVID and having previously been friends with Dermer.
“It was very much a COVID kind of inspiration. The director Brandon Dermer and I have been friends for a while, and I was on a hiatus from American Dad!, which is the show that I currently work on… we both had huge plans, and we were so excited to do things, and then everything just kind of disappeared. And so, everything became suddenly like a grieving process. We were mourning the loss of our projects and things like that, and then Brandon came to me with this seed of an idea about that feeling and how he really wanted to put it into a feature film,” said Ketry.
That seed of an idea reflecting their feelings towards losing projects to COVID then took the shape of Vanessa mourning the loss of her friend, only to return as the hilarious extra-terrestrial character which balances both drama and comedy.
“It all starts with Alicia Ketry’s script,” commented Dermer as to how they achieved that balance. “She worked really hard to make sure that it both had the heart and the humor there. Then having the opportunity to work with Kyle Newacheck as a producer who’s got so many years in the saddle as a director of comedy, we talked about that balance a lot. Then being so lucky to bring on Natalie and Jillian who are both writers and directors in their own right, and have a deep understanding of the story, and then bring it to their characters… we talked about that sort of pacing of when we were going to have these real moments and these really funny moments… so we looked at the script as a roadmap, and we followed it to make sure we were infusing both the comedy, the sci-fi, and the heart.”
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Jillian Bell and Natalie Morales in I’m Totally Fine
“The day that Jillian was sent the script, because she read it before the other actors, I was losing my mind nervous. I couldn’t believe that something I wrote was getting into the hands of someone I admire so much. It was just the connection with Kyle and Brandon, and Blake… it was like this world that all came together with these amazing people,” said Ketry.
“Natalie is so successful and worked on so many things. When she came to set, we basically adjusted the dialogue as she found the character. Once we found it, the rewriting began to shift to more of the not-of-this-earth… somebody who doesn’t understand emotions,” she continued, explaining how they were able to capture what it is to be an alien in the way that they did. “It shifted every day on set, each scene we would kind of adjust… Natalie found the character from there, and it was like a waterfall of changing and tweaking from that perspective.”
“They brought so much to the table,” commented Dermer on Bell and Morales. “Not only as actresses, because they’re executive producers on the film as well. They were really involved with the development… we were thinking about their characters from all perspectives of not only how they’re going to execute on the day, but what it’s going to be like production-wise… Jillian and I talked about our own anxieties, and our own stresses and how those manifest and how we can look at that through Vanessa, and then with Jennifer, we really talked with Natalie about tracking the alien’s emotive response and how one would process feeling these things for the first time.”
I’m Totally Fine is available in theaters, on demand, and digital on November 4, 2022, from DECAL Releasing.
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