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Behind the scenes of the award-wining SA sci-fi/horror film 'Fried Barry' - Q&A with director Ryan Kruger

Celebrated music director Ryan Kruger's first full-length feature film, Fried Barry has been winning over both local and international critics and fans alike. Most recently, it won three awards at the RapidLion South African International Film Festival 2020; for Best Editing, Best Cinematography and Best South African Film.
“The full-length film follows the outlandish tale of a heroin addict whose body is hijacked by an alien visitor and boasts a star-studded cast of local and international actors including Hakeem Kae-Kazim (Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Black Sails), Sean Cameron Michael (MacGyver, 24) and Chanelle De Jager (The Widow, Outlander).



“The film is the feature-length adaptation of the award-winning eponymous short film. The short has built up something of a cult following, gaining hundreds of thousands of views across platforms and over 100 examples of Fried Barry fan art.”

We got in touch with director Ryan Kruger to chat inspiration, improvisation and cult followings.    

BizcommunityCongratulations on the many complementary reviews and awards nominations and wins what do you think it is about the film that resonates with both fans and critics?


Fried Barry is just so different and very entertaining! Not a minute goes by in the film that makes you bored – the breakneck pace always keeps viewers engaged. But I think, most of all, the film is a character study of Barry. He’s fun to watch, he has this amazing presence on screen and you can’t help but fall in love with him by the end.

Ryan Kruger

BizcommunityWas it challenging adapting the short film to a full-length feature?


I never planned to make the short into a feature – it was just designed to be a short, crazy experimental. When it started receiving all these great reviews, awards and fan art submission, I knew I was onto something with this character. People kept asking if they were ever going to see a feature-length adaptation and, honestly, it had never even crossed my mind. But once I got the idea of the story and how to make it work with our lead actor, Gary, I knew I had the perfect way to pull it off.


Fried Barry Trailer from aryankrugerthing@gmail.com on Vimeo.


BizcommunityWhere did the inspiration for the story of Fried Barry come from?


At the time, before I decided to make this film, I went through a really bad time with my health and fell into depression and nearly kicked the bucket. My biggest number one thing in life was to always make a film, so I not only did I need to make a film ASAP to get me out of depression but it just felt so right.

Once the idea came to me, I wrote a brief ‘scene breakdown’ in just three days. I knew I had to make this film in a certain way or it wouldn’t work. I wrote a handful of dialogue and the rest of the film was all improvised. I worked closely with all the actors and we workshopped each scene on the day. The improv was great because we came up with so many great ideas on the spot, which ended up forming some of the funniest and most moving moments of the film.


I had to have a clean slate every day, working with Gary, so we could build his character from the ground up. He didn’t know anything in advance until I told him what we were doing each day. So, it meant a lot of hard work and collaboration to get it right.

All my inspirations for this film came from ‘80s films I grew up watching like ETAliens,  Star Man, Terminator and especially the Australian indie film Bad Boy Bubby. Once I had this story in my head, I just knew it was going to work and be something totally different.

BizcommunityWhy the decision to shoot the film as mostly improvised?


The funny thing was I have so many other scripts and ideas but when I got this idea I just knew that this is the right one to do. But there was only one way to make this film and it had to be improvised. Gary is not a trained actor – he has great instincts, but we didn’t want to constrain him by having everything set out in a script. Gary Green really is Fried Barry and the best way for that to come out is just to roll cameras and let it happen. The whole improv-based approach certainly made the movie better – it ended up creating some of the most hilarious and affecting moments on set and makes the film what it is!


BizcommunityHow did you go about selecting the cast?


The cast was made up of many people I’ve worked with over the years and a handful of people I’ve always wanted to work with. There were maybe 10-15 actors in the whole of South Africa that we weren’t able to fit in our massive cast, but besides them, we had pretty much every big-name local actor you could imagine. I am extremely happy with who I cast in the film – there are so many amazing actors in South Africa and I’m glad this film can show off their amazing talent.

BizcommunityWould you say your background in directing music videos comes into play when creating a unique look for a full film?


As a music video director, my style which is very visual and narrative-based. I always try to tell a story within each music video. I’ve always loved characters and striking images, so Fried Barry was just a very natural progression. The film really represents me as a director in so many ways and I think people that know my work will know that it’s a Ryan Kruger thing.


BizcommunityWhat was it like working with Gary Green?


Working with Gary was just amazing. I’ve worked with him for about 10 years now, placing him in small, featured parts in my shorts and music videos. As I said, I love characters and I’ve always loved Gary’s look. I also love working with non-professional actors as they haven’t picked up all the bad habits that a lot of actors usually have. Working with Gary on Fried Barry was like having a blank canvas every day. He didn’t have any assumptions about how each scene would play out. Each day was a challenge and a fresh start where we were just living in the moment, which worked great because we’re really open with one another and we trust each other. Nobody could have played this role like him – this role was made for him. He gave me 110% each day and was always willing to give me more. I truly believe this is his time. I know I saw something in him that no one did. Gary used to work as an extra on set normally and he hasn’t got the best name for doing that. However, Gary is so committed to the art form – he just wants to be noticed and seen. I am so happy and proud of him how far he has come. Once you see this film, trust me, he’s going to blow everyone away.


BizcommunityYour guilty pleasure when it comes to TV shows or movies:


I am definitely an ‘80s kid at heart. I love all American ‘80s cinema – I really think they’re the best films ever made, hands down. There’s something about the look, the feel, the old-school VFX that I just love!

Release in local cinemas TBC.

About Ruth Cooper

Ruth is the production manager at Bizcommunity, as well as a editor of the Lifestyle section. moc.ytinummoczib@htur
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