EXCLUSIVE: What We Do in the Shadows and Workaholics producer Kyle Newacheck has teamed with music video vet Brandon Dermer for the sci-fi dramedy I’m Totally Fine. Jillian Bell and Natalie Morales are set to lead the project.
I’m Totally Fine follows a Vanessa (Bell), a woman in mourning who takes a solo trip to clear her head after the death of her friend (Morales). However, Vanessa’s self-care vacation plans change when she’s met with a situation out of this world.
“We were making a movie that mirrored what we had all collectively been experiencing over 2020, without being literal,” Newacheck told Deadline. “The metaphor of it is 2020 and being powerless – all of a sudden everything got taken away from us as we knew it, everything changed.”
The film, also produced by Jonas Dolkart, features Newacheck, Harvey Guillen and Karen Maruyama as well.
The Murder Mystery director, who self-financed the “micro-budget” film, walked Deadline through the film’s conception and the process of filming an indie pic in 10 days amid SoCal’s coronavirus surges.
Like other writers and creatives, Newacheck said he didn’t want 2020 to pass without taking on a new project. The producer and Dermer drafted the idea in September after they traded stories about filming various projects during the pandemic. Shortly after, they reached out to American Dad scribe and friend Alisha Ketry, who penned the I’m Totally Fine script.
“It was so fertile and it was almost exploding out of us,” he said. “The three of us had a draft of the outline within two weeks and then the first draft of the script within a month of conceptualization because we were all like ‘we just want to work, we need to put this out there.'”
The next stop for the I’m Totally Fine crew? Four rental houses in Temecula.
Newacheck, who said the script would account for a quarantine bubble, said that the cast and crew isolated separately in the different rentals while filming in December. When working on set in another Temeucla home, the film’s cast and crew donned face masks and shields, maintained proper social distancing and tested regularly throughout the 10 days, abiding by Covid safety protocols outlined by the PGA, WGA and SAG.
Newacheck added that no one came down with Covid-19 during the process, attributing the set’s defense against the infectious disease to regular testing, masking up and the the Temecula quarantine pods.
“It was weird because in that moment, we were all out making a movie, it felt like we were on this magical island where it was our home,” he added. “We had to stay at home, but since we had made it out there and were in this bubble, we were protected, for a moment, for 10 days and it was freeing.”
While Newacheck said he never expected to filming an entire film during a global pandemic, he noted that the unique challenges and limitations of putting together I’m Totally Fine uncovered a new and liberating creative path in producing. He explained that he has his eyes set on producing another project in the summer and seeks to finance more small films in the future.
“It’s like this crazy, horrific, wild, strange, seemingly lawless year…but there’s a silver lining in it,” he said. “If you look hard enough there can be a silver lining, and I think that’s what this movie is. For me it’s a silver lining.”