Ryan Kruger is no stranger to filmmaking and proves his talent with Fried Barry.
Fried Barry follows the story of a drug-addled degenerate (Gary Green) who, after yet another bender, gets abducted by aliens. Barry takes a backseat as his alien visitor assumes control of his body and takes it for a joyride through Cape Town. What follows is an onslaught of drugs, sex and violence as Barry’s alien tourist enters the weird and wonderful world of humankind.
Check out my interview with Ryan!
How exciting is it that you have your first feature under your belt?
Ryan: It’s amazing, to be really honest. It’s still crazy because, I mean, I’m 38 now and it’s been a lifelong dream to make a feature. I maybe would have made a feature like seven years ago, and, you know, like with anything, it takes time. There have been many times where I thought I was going to make a movie and then something happens and it doesn’t happen. That happened quite a few times. I used to get excited, and that didn’t happen with this film. I was just like, ‘I’m gonna do this himself and I’m just gonna go out there and I’m just gonna do it.’ And now that it’s done and it’s finished and it’s out, the success of the film so far has been amazing and the fan base has been awesome and for it to be on Shudder and everything, it’s just been so cool. And like I said, it still hasn’t really hit me. It’s been my biggest dream to shoot a feature, but now, you know, as soon as you achieve that one thing, you start chasing the next one. I’ll do another one.
You have quite a few shorts on your IMDB page, how did you settle on expanding Fried Barry?
Ryan: Yeah, so I mean, Fried Barry almost happened by mistake. I’ve got all these different feature film scripts that I wrote and, you know, where I was at the time, in my life, I was going through depression and I was just in like a bad space before I made Fried Barry. And in 2017 I shot a three minute experimental film, also called Fried Barry and it was just basically about a drug addict in an abandoned building, on his latest drug trip, and it was just very experimental. And that did really well at festivals and stuff. It ended up doing really well and then when I thought about it, I thought, ‘you know, how could I make this into a feature?’ Then one night I just got an idea and three days later, I had a scene brief breakdown of the whole movie. I just started to develop it from there and then a month later, we were shooting the film. It’s crazy how fast we got to film the actual project. It came super quick.
That’s so crazy, three days.
Ryan: Yeah, it’s funny because where I was at the time with depression, and I was down, I was out and all these other things happening in life, it was just like the worst time ever. When I was at the bottom of the pits, I was just like, ‘what is the number one thing that I’ve always wanted to do?’ And it was to make a film. And I was like, ‘cool, I’m gonna do it.’ So I’ve got an idea, and I wrote a scene brief breakdown for the movie. And then my co producer, I only knew him for about a month, I rang him up and I said, ‘I want to make a movie, I want to make it next month.’ He was like, ‘well, have you got a script?’ And I’m like, ‘no, but I’m writing it as we go, and I want to do it in a certain way because of the design of the film and how I want to make it… ‘if we don’t make it next month, it’s never going to happen or it’s going to get pushed back and pushed back again and before you know it, another years gone and I haven’t made a feature.’ And a month later, we started shooting the film. It took a year and a half to shoot it, 28 days in total. But that’s what we did and now that the movie is finished and out there. It’s crazy.
You have a very unique way of storytelling. You’re fusing all kinds of everything together and it’s very much an experience. How would you describe your own shooting style?
Ryan: People have asked me that question before. I mean, like old cinema, and I like comedies and I like horrors, I like series, movies and I like experimental films. I like the feel and tone of certain things. I’ve had people in the past that have seen my work and they can tell that I’ve done that and I ask ‘how?’ I just do what I do and they can tell that I’ve done it, whatever that means. I also just like to be free in the moment. I started out as an actor and then I went into directing, but as an actor, I loved improv, so as a director, it’s very much the same thing. Just to be organic and be in that moment where you can change something up. Most films, they get a greenlit script and they’re like, ‘okay, this is what it’s going to be and this is what we’re shooting, and we can’t change it.’ It’s nice to live in that moment and be like, ‘I’ve got a better idea, let’s try this or let’s do this.’ And sometimes those ideas are the gems and that’s what makes the movie what it is… And I don’t think, as artists, we should limit ourselves to do that. We should live in the moment and to come up with ideas and if we can improve on it, let’s improve on it. Obviously it depends on what you shoot as well, but I think it’s important to experience that.
Like when I watch movies, a lot of the time, if I press pause, I’m like, ‘okay, what’s going to happen? Okay, either this is going to happen or this is going to happen.’ For me, most films now are quite cliche, I kind of guess what’s going to happen in it, there’s only two things that the majority of the time, always happen. So it’s very rare that something happens that you don’t expect. That was a big motivation for me with this movie, to take the audience off guard completely. You might think it’s going to go here, you may think it’s going to go there, and it goes completely the opposite way and I really wanted the audience to be on that drug trip with Barry or as Barry and go on this journey. That’s why I always say, Fried Barry is almost like a road movie, you know, it’s a road movie without the car but Barry’s the car, and you just go in on this crazy trip and by the end of it, you’ve gone through this crazy trip and you just feel dirty and you want to take a shower because you just experienced everything that he’s experienced. I think that’s what filmmakers need to do now.
Fried Barry is a very bold movie and it’s one of those films that you either get it or you don’t, you either love it or you hate it. But the important thing for me was, as my first film, is to remember it and to go on that experience.The story is simple, it’s about a drug addict that gets abducted by aliens, spat back out and an alien takes his body on a joyride through Cape Town, South Africa. That’s the story. The rest of the movie is the experience. It’s just about going on that journey and seeing how dark society is or how crazy life can be. As human beings, we do stupid shit and we’re quite crazy and it’s not the alien that’s crazy it’s us, humanity, and how dark it is. I think there’s a lot to be told of the stupid shit that we do in the world.
How did you choose what experiences Barry and the alien were going to go on?
Ryan: As soon as I had the story and knew what the world was going to be- when I say the world I mean that it’s like the dregs of society and the rough areas that that Barry lives in- so you’re going to bump into those characters and you’re going to bump into previous drug addict mates that know Barry. The world was already set up. I think that is what kind of determined who he meets on his journey…
I think once you know the character, it’s easy to write for and obviously, Fried Barry is a very genre mashing film, you’ve got the elements of horror, you’ve got the elements of sci-fi, you’ve got a shitload of comedy and dark humor. It’s like, what would be funny if he met this crazy person. Also you’ve got to look at it from the alien’s perspective as well, so these aliens abducted this drug addict- and it just happens to be a drug addict, and not a nine-to-fiver that works in an office- because the film could have been completely different. They just picked up the worst person they could have picked up, so automatically you’re in that circle of drugs and just all the crazy people out there on the streets. It could have easily gone the other way.
What was it like working with Gary and then bringing him back into character?
Ryan: With Gary, I knew that he would be able to pull this off. So, the interesting thing is Gary’s not a trained actor. With that being said, I picked Gary for his look because he’s got such an amazing, interesting, unique look. The movie’s called Fried Barry and it relies on this character because he’s driving the whole movie. So the interesting thing was, I did a lot of improv with the actors, but with Gary, I didn’t do any improv with him. I needed to be very strict with him to get exactly what I wanted. Before we started filming, Gary knew what the film was about and what the character was about, but he didn’t have any bits of the script or anything. He knew what we were doing, like 30 to 40 minutes before filming because I needed that clean slate every single day. I didn’t want him to rehearse any of the scenes, I needed that blank slate every day so he’s fresh with whatever I’m telling him to do and not be side tracked or have ideas to do other things. But the interesting thing was, his character mimics all these people that he meets. The alien mimics all these people. And when it came to direct Gary, a lot of the time, I was on the side of the camera going ‘okay, Gary, copy my face. Now do this face and this face.’ And the reason why I’m doing that is to get the right performance out of Gary, but I’m also busy editing the scene in my head… He trusted me and I knew that he would do amazing and he did. He was the best person for the job. Like this role was made for Gary and he did such an amazing job, and we both had a lot of fun. We laughed so many times and it was just overall a really great experience and I’m so happy that we both went on this journey together.
And that definitely translated very well over into the finished product, for sure.
Ryan: That’s also the beauty of editing as well. You had all these comedy beats, you know, whether it’s like baby Barry or the reactions. And that’s what it is, like the whole movie is him experiencing the world and the world experiencing him with the people he meets.