“Being independent filmmakers, you have to strike while the iron is hot”: Kelley Kali on I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking)
The pandemic was a strange time for everyone, but particularly for creatives. There seems to have been a split in camps between those who found it impossible to think imaginatively during that time and those who embraced the abnormality as a potent starting point for new work. Writer/director Kelley Kali fell into the latter category, and her personal experiences of lockdown and those in her community gave birth to the frenetically paced, raw and immersive movie I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking), following Danny (played by Kali), a recently widowed mother made homeless with her eight-year-old girl. She convinces her daughter they are on a fun camping trip, rather than left to live in a tent by their precarious financial situation. Handheld cameras allow the viewer to tail Danny for a day, providing a warm-spirited yet stressful window into the life-on-a-knife-edge that was the reality for many during the pandemic and since. She roller skates her way around a burning hot LA in a fun fluoro outfit picked out by her daughter, hustling for work and money with mixed results, forever tripped up and distracted by the various friends and foes she encounters.
The Upcoming had a fascinating in-depth chat with Kali about being inspired to work with friends Angelique Molina and Roma Kong to write, direct and star in the slice-of-life film during the beginning of the pandemic, how the project began as a short and developed into a feature, using a stripped-back crew – “Sean Baker-style” – and how she created the character of Danny as a representation of the need for all of us to survive in increasingly brutal conditions. We also discussed how the colour palette and handheld filming style reflect the sense of optimism but also chaos in the life of the protagonist, the strong female lens that captures nuanced experiences of women of colour, and what it means to her for the film to connect so strongly with audiences around the world.
I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking) is released in select cinemas and on-demand on 3rd March 2023. Read our review here.
Watch the trailer for I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking) here: