Updated: Sep 12, 2020
Horror Girly caught up with director, Ryan Krugar, ahead of the film's International Premiere at Fantasia 2020
If there is one film that everyone is talking about at the moment; it’s the weird and wonderful Fried Barry. Already achieving cult status amongst horror fans, Fried Barry is a genre-mashing road-trip of sex, drugs and violence; as an alien tourist assumes control over the drug-addled, abusive, Barry, and take his body for a joyride around Cape Town.
I caught up with director, Ryan Krugar, ahead of the film's International Premiere at Fantasia Film Festival. Fried Barry will see its UK Premiere at Grimmfest in October.
On Sex, Cult Status and Easter Eggs.
“It was always my intention to create a film that gained a cult following” explains Kruger during our Zoom call. Yet nothing prepared him for the reactions to the short film which was made in 2017. “I started to receive fan art, there was something about Barry that really inspired people.”
As with any cult film - reactions have been mixed. Whilst the film has horror fans completely obsessed, Kruger tells us that at Fried Barry’s world premier at CineQuest in San Jose, two people walked out of the cinema during a gruesome sex scene.
“They just couldn’t handle it.” Kruger laughs “It was also at that point I realised that Barry has a lot of sex for a weirdo who doesn’t talk”
Perhaps it’s his excellent listening skills that gets Barry into bed, but Barry is so popular he even has his own brand of condoms - part of the obscure marketing already winning fans across the internet.
Easter Egg hunters should know there are several references within Fried Barry to various films which have inspired Kruger, including a cameo from Joey Cramer from “Flight of the Navigator”.
Turns out we shared a mutual love of films by David Lynch, John Carpenter and David Cronenburg as well as 80’s classics such as Back to the Future. As for remakes, Kruger is against them;
“Just leave them alone! There is nothing wrong with the likes of the Fly or Videodrome”
There are also some obscure references to various motivational quotes or advice from friends within Fried Barry. Kruger refused to give any more hints despite some fierce arm-twisting, so if you enjoy hunting for Easter Eggs then follow Fried Barry on Instagram and Facebook as there will be some giveaways.
On Dark Times
Contrary to popular belief, Fried Barry was not created in response to fans reactions to the short film. Approximately four years ago, Kruger had planned to film eight experimental shorts in order to advance his film-making career. He had filmed the short film ‘Fried Barry’ in 2017. But then crisis struck. Kruger developed some kidney problems and ended up getting sepsis which was life threatening. He spent a lot of time in the UK slowly recovering at the same time dealing with a bad break up and broken heart. Kruger sank into a deep depression.
“It’s times of crisis where you focus your attention on what’s important. Top of my list was making a feature film.”
Realising that the only way back out of the void was to make his feature film, Kruger got to work. However, he ignored the piles of scripts in his office and decided to make a feature-length version of Fried Barry instead - only releasing the short when the feature was part-completed.
“What I needed at that time was to be as creative as possible, Fried Barry allowed me to do that. "
Kruger approached James C. Williamson, who he had only met the month before, who fortunately agreed to join as co-producer. Filming started within a month. Kruger remains tight-lipped on Fried Barry’s budget he feels “it devalues a film knowing the budget” The film took 18 months to complete due to availability of cast and locations.
This approach had its fair share of challenges, such as the risk of having to find new crew throughout the project. “We had already booked the filming schedule when my original Director of Photography dropped out 3 days before filming.” At one point Kruger thought he would have to shoot the film using different Directors of Photography. Not ideal. Gareth Place jumped on board a day before shooting was scheduled to start. Place only agreed to shoot 4 days due to his prior commitments with his girlfriend to go away for the weekend.
“After 4 days of great shooting I told him he could have the full feature if he cancelled the trip.”
Place agreed, and it was a deal that paid off. He picked up an award for Best Cinematography at the RapidLion Film Festival. We didn’t ask about his love life.
Kruger is in a much better place now, mentally and physically, and is looking ahead to the future.
“Fried Barry literally saved my life in so many ways. James C. Williamson became my best friend. I could not ask for much more.”
On Breaking the Rules
“People thought I was crazy casting Gary Green as the lead, but for me he was the only person who could play Barry.”
Kruger had known Green for eleven years, as Green had worked as an extra in almost every production that has been made in South Africa. Apart from a single line here and there and a few stunts, he had never worked as a professional actor. Whilst most casting directors would turn their nose up at this CV, Kruger saw the potential in Green and decided to work in such a way that would play to Green’s strengths.
“Given the type of guy Gary is, if I had given him a script he would have just been overthinking everything. He was already nervous. I worked closely with him so I got exactly what I needed.”
Of course, it is helped by the fact that Barry only has a few lines, but Green still carries the lead role with a wonderful physicality that earned him a nomination for Best Actor at the RapidLion Film Festival. “We really wanted him to win” says Kruger, “that would have been such a boost for him and to know I did my job as Director to the best of my abilities.” Following my chat with Kruger, Green went on to win Best Lead Actor award at Fantaspoa.
If you didn’t already know - there is no screenplay for Fried Barry. “It would have only delayed filming and I needed to start filming or it was never going to happen”. Kruger was clear on the concept and what he wanted to achieve in each scene, but felt that throwing the rule book out with the screenplay paid off.
“You get caught up in descriptions in a script, whilst I wanted to allow room for creativity. I worked closely with the cast, improvisation was work shopped on the day, and I got exactly what I wanted from everyone. I only wrote six pieces of dialogue for the whole film.”
Another rule we were glad to see broken was set hierarchy. Having worked as an actor, Kruger was more than familiar with directors shouting at everyone and cast and crew acting out of fear. “I hate the egos in the film industry, everyone is on the same side when making a film with me. If the PA or another crew member makes a suggestion - so what? If it is a good idea then use it.”
Kruger’s reputation for his friendly and person-centred approach as a Director means the very best actors and crew are clamouring to work with him. Fried Barry has a star-studied cast including Sean-Cameron Michael (24: Redemption, Black Sails) and Hakeem Kae Kazim (Pirates of the Caribbean III, Lost)
We asked for some tips as we prepare to shoot our own short horror film; “Get your film scored, it makes all the difference” Kruger advises. We know what he means. Too often independent film-makers use royalty-free or cheap ‘off-the shelf’ music which ruins the tone of the film and screams ‘low budget’. Kruger worked with South African DJ producer “Haezer” for both the short and feature length version of Fried Barry to give it’s Adrenalin-pumping soundtrack.
On Cats and Kittens.
As we were speaking, Kruger had just released a video where 'Tiger Kings' Carole Baskin reacts to the Fried Barry trailer. Her reaction is one absolute disgust and makes for hilarious watching.
In real life, Kruger is somewhat of a cat fan himself. He credits his cat ‘Kitty’ (“I know, imaginative name”) as getting him through the darkest period of his life. Sadly Kitty developed cancer a few years ago and several vets told Kruger that the most humane thing was to have him euthanized.
“After all that had happened, I could not face losing Kitty, I refused to give up.”
So after internet research, pouring over craigslist for an ultrasonic machine and spending way too much money, Kruger recreated a supplement which is said to be the secret to a long healthy life. Four years on, Kitty is alive and very much cancer-free, much to his vets surprise.
On Cults (again) and Time Travel
During our chat, we bonded over a mutual fascination with modern cults. It’s a psychology thing. Turns out Kruger is currently filming a documentary, The Prophet, about a real South African cult set in the late 80s early 90s.
When the documentary is wrapped, it is time to start filming his next feature; a gritty Sci-Fi horror focused on time travel. “I don’t believe time travel has been explored in this way before” Kruger explains, without giving too much away.
On Film Festivals.
The short version of Fried Barry received 60 official selections around the world and won 13 awards. The feature-length version is tipped for the top having already received 5 nominations at RapidLion film festival and walking away with 3 wins including Best South African film.
Fried Barry is also hitting major festivals around the globe such Sitges and many more. It is said to be one of the five break out films at Fantasia this year.
I asked about Kruger's festival strategy.
“You get some directors who will happily boast that a film is award winning, and fail to mention that it is a small obscure festival at the back of a pub somewhere. They wont even provide the link on Facebook!” Kruger observes.
“For me it’s about getting your film out there for people to see, that’s one of the main reasons you make your film.
"What you don't want is your film gathering dust on your back shelf and never to be seen. So even if it’s a small audience around the world watching your film at least people are seeing it and talking about it”.
Kruger, along with co-producer, Williamson, are currently seeking international distribution. It seems that there is some good news on that front, but you will have to wait until later this year to find out more. In the meantime, Canadian fans can watch Fried Barry at Fantasia, or you can grab your tickets to the UK premiere here and follow Fried Barry updates on Instagram and Facebook