Fried Barry is the 2020 comedy/horror/sci-fi movie which follows Barry — a drug-addicted man who is abducted by aliens during a bender. Barry takes a backseat as an alien visitor gains control of his body and takes it for a joyride through Cape Town.
In an interview with Borrowing Tape, the co-writer/director of Fried Barry, Ryan Kruger told us about several facets of the film's productions, from the beginning stages of writing the film to behind-the-scenes filming.
Originally, Fried Barry was a short film you wrote and directed back in 2017. What was the driving force for making Fried Barry into a feature film?
The short was a standalone experimental. There was never a plan to make it into a feature. I always just looked at the short as a success as it did well at festivals and picked up awards. But it also generated fan art, which was strange for a short. The feature was born out of total frustration where I was in my career and personal life. The dream was to always make a feature and I came close many times, but it just never happened. In my personal life, I went through a hard time as I had something wrong with my kidney, had an operation, and then got sepsis and nearly died. My cat had cancer, and I also went through a breakup, and I just headed down a black hole of depression. At the bottom of this pit, I asked myself what is the number one thing I’ve always wanted to do in life and that was to make a film. So I had a bunch of scripts I could’ve chosen but when the idea came to me I knew it was the right one to do. So, Fried Barry saved my life in so many ways and I am truly grateful for that bad time I went through, otherwise I never would’ve made this film.
Since Barry doesn't speak much after his alien abduction, the score/music becomes integral to how we perceive his experiences. What was it like working with Composer Haezer for the score of Fried Barry?
When I had the idea for the story, I knew the film had to be scored as it's going to play a big part in the movie. And I only had one person in mind to do it. Working with Haezer is such a pleasure, he’s such a nice guy and so easy to work with. I sent him a few references for certain scenes, and we had a few meetings. Once I described the world to him and we got that down, he did his thing and ran with it. Such a talent and genius when it comes to sound design and music, I am a big fan of his work.
What were your favorite scenes in Fried Barry — while on the set filming and in the final cut?
There are a few scenes, but I guess the abduction in the ship and in the escape in hospital. It was just a lot of fun and a chance to be really creative. With the scene on the ship, it’s just great showing my style that I’ve been wanting to do for so long. The hospital scene with all the actors and the blocking was a lot of fun. And working with some great actors I’ve worked with many times and admire so much. Being on set for Fried Barry was great, we all had such a great time and I think people that watch the movie can see this.
How was it working with Cinematographer Gareth Place to form the aesthetic for Fried Barry?
Gareth is such a gent. He did an amazing job. He came onboard like a day before, which is insane, but after a day on set he knew what I wanted and the style I was going for. As a DP, he has a great eye and loves thinking out the box, which is always a great thing. So we just worked so well together, and I didn’t really know him before the shoot. So I also made a great friend.
The over-18 warning message, mini-advertisement feat. Barry and intermission graphics were a stylish addition — can you tell us about these creative choices?
The over-18 message at the start was based on the 1980s Simon Bates certification, which was such a big part of my childhood as every video you rented from the video shop had this at the start. It was such a big thing where if you were with your friends or family you would always read along with him because we all heard it so many times. As for the intermission, I just missed that at the cinema growing up, so I thought I’d bring that back to have that 80s feel. It was also a great time to give the audience a breather. Also, within the story to implicate the adverts with Barry as he was knocked out, so it was also kind of his thoughts as he saw the one commercial earlier in the film at his house. But now he is in the one ad.
What role did VFX and SFX play in the production of Fried Barry?
This was a major part of the film as I didn’t want the film to look too digital and I wanted to get that real 80's feel. There wasn’t a lot of VFX in the film, really I tried to do everything in-camera. But the Alien ship and Lasers on the temple and odd jaw stretch were made by Blake Prinsloo. He did an amazing job with the ship, it looked so great. The SFX was a mixture of makeup and wind machines to create that right look. Tricks when floating up into the ship was with a crane and Barry on a wire, and then a high-speed camera for floating up inside the ship on a trampoline jumping up and down and keeping his legs straight. Also, a big part was sound design.
Which films/directors have influenced you as a filmmaker, including Fried Barry? What are some of your favorite movies from the past decade?
I have always been a big fan of 80s cinema growing up. I am a big fan of John Carpenter and David Cronenberg, and of course, Steven Spielberg. Within Fried Barry, my 3 main references were Starman, E.T., and an early 90s film called Bad Boy Bubby. A more recent film I love is Interstellar. Nolan is great and also tries to keep it down with VFX and keeping it in-camera. I think people have gone overboard these days with VFX, and we have lost that touch of how films look today. Back in the 80s, it was that right mix of like 90 percent in camera and 10 percent VFX. I think now it’s the other way around.
Which themes and subject matters interest you as a filmmaker?
I have a synergy of reality and fantasy, and the two for me are never really mutually exclusive. I like the contrast and the idea of a real-life situation depicted in an otherworldly way. But I love great-looking characters and having that real raw feeling and having a story around them.