Actor and director, Ryan Kruger. Picture: Supplied
Actor and director, Ryan Kruger. Picture: Supplied

SA horror-thriller 'Fried Barry' picked up for the US and other international territories

By Liam Karabo Joyce Time of article published Mar 25, 2021

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Cape Town-based actor and director Ryan Kruger’s first independent full-length film “Fried Barry” has picked up AMC Networks’ genre streamer Shudder.

Scheduled for international release in May this year, “Fried Barry” will debut in North America, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

The movie is about a drug-addled, abusive bastard who, after yet another bender, is abducted by aliens.

Barry takes a backseat as an 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 our alien tourist enters the weird and wonderful world of humankind.

The movie has already received 22 awards at international film festivals.

Kruger, a SAMA winner is widely celebrated for his work as a music video director, having directed more than 100 music videos and directed internationally acclaimed short films.

Speaking about his latest offering, Kruger said that “Fried Barry” was born out of total frustration about where he was in his career.

According to Kruger, being known as a director for doing narrative storytelling within music videos put him in a box.

“Bands trusted me and let me do anything I wanted, I was still in a box as I had to think about their audience and their music and being able to get it on major music video channels.

“I couldn’t really do my style”, he said.

Originally “Fried Barry” was just a three-minute-long experimental film.

Kruger and his team had 59 official selections around the world at festivals.

“What came from that was all these amazing pieces of fan art from all over the globe, which was a surprise because people just seemed to really love the main character.

“I never planned to make it into a feature film at all.

“I just looked at it as that short was a success and that's it.

“But where I was at the time I was in a bad place.

“I had an operation on my kidney and got sepsis and nearly died, went through a break-up and my cat got cancer and I went into depression.

“It was all too much for me at the same time.

“While I was in this dark hole, I just said to myself what is the number one thing I've always wanted to do with my life, and it was to make a film.

“I just got the idea one night and I knew that this was the film to make,” he said.

The film was shot in blocks over a course of a year.

“I always knew how the film was going to end, but getting to that point was the challenge.

“But that’s where the magic came in because I started to get more ideas while filming and it just developed as we went along, so it really gave me the freedom to be super creative.

“I would have notes I made the day before filming, or even in the car driving to set, on a scrap of paper,” said Kruger.

Many of the ideas within a scene he got on set while shooting which he said made them all be in the moment when improvising and taking direction carefully.

“The cool thing about this film is that 80% of this film is improv and workshopped on the day – apart from the dialogue I wrote.

“As an actor myself, I love working with actors; I love that organic space to be free and feel where anything can happen.

“After the film was all shot, we had half a year in post-production getting everything together,” he said.

Filmed in and around Cape Town, no auditions were held as Kruger had worked with most of the cast before.

2020 was the main festival run for the film where it played at many big genre festivals around the world – including Fantasia in Canada and Sitges in Spain.

Speaking on why Fried Barry is an important film for SA cinema, Kruger said it is it’s cult-style with a mashing up of genres like horror and comedy and the height of indie-dark cinema that make it unique.

“Its style is off-beat and crazy; film fans will be in for a treat.

“In SA we normally make dramas or comedies or films about the history of our country, but things are starting to change which is great and there are many amazing local films coming out.

“It's important to get ’Fried Barry’ out there and to show that this type of film can make money and there is an audience especially overseas.

“At the end of the day, the film business is a business you need to be able to sell your film so you can make another one.

“And if we keep making the same type of films here the industry will never change or grow.”

One major element in the film is how Cape Town is portrayed.

“Often in film, Cape Town is either portrayed as a beautiful and exotic location or it is dressed-up to play a different city entirely.

“However, Kruger wanted to show a darker and grittier side of Cape Town, while still clearly having the city as a character in the film.

“This motivation can be seen in the locations we chose that evoke this underworld feeling and present a strong colour palette and harsh geometry while still having that 1980s cinema look with colours,” he said.

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