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Feb 24, 2022

Ryan Kruger is a South African writer and director who burst on the scene last year with his feature debut Fried Barry. Fried Barry is completely bonkers in the most wonderful way. It's about a drug-addled man in Johannesburg who gets abducted by aliens. The aliens take full control of his body and we watch the title character Barry go through one insane drug-fueled and blood-soaked adventure after another under their control. It's a blast and was featured on The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs (which is unarguably the best way to watch it). This movie is one of the most original films to come out of horror in recent years which is why I was so excited to speak to Ryan. He has a lot to say on the topic of originality, true indie filmmaking, and how to market your projects. Without further ado here is Fried Barry Director, Ryan Kruger. 

Here are some key takeaways from this conversation with Ryan Kruger:

  1. You don’t have to film in a straight line. Instead of production taking place through a designated timeline, Fried Barry was filmed on and off over the course of a few years. Sometimes, this is what you have to do for budgetary and scheduling purposes and there's nothing wrong with that. Even if you don't have your movie fully funded, start filming it. Investors are way more likely to jump on board once the train has left the station and they see that you're making tangible progress. See my conversation with William Lustig for more on this. If your production needs to start and stop, so be it, but make sure your cast and crew is aware of this and down for the ride, if only for continuity purposes. The other benefit of filming in stops and starts is it allows you as a director to evaluate your movie more deeply than you could have by just reviewing dailies at the end of a shoot day. Instead, as was the case of Ryan, he was able to sit with what he'd filmed for months at a time, and ruminate over it so he could make adjustments as he moved forward.
  2. Become a master marketer. Some filmmakers think that a movie's success will be based on its quality and merit. While both those things are critically important, your movie won't have an impact if people don't see it - therefore, you need to have a marketing plan and learn to promote the shit out of your film. This was something that Ryan was naturally very good at from the beginning. When promoting Fried Barry, he didn't do so through marketing traditional channels like media, interviews, etc. Instead, Ryan did off the wall things like making Fried Barry condoms and a relentless series of memes that featured the main character so that he could build recognition of his face on the internet. Traditional marketing channels for films are crowded and often leave you fighting for scraps of attention. Even if you can get your indie movie mentioned on Deadline, it'll soon be buried with news of higher budgeted projects and lost in obscurity. Instead, you need to come up with intelligent, creative, and disruptive marketing ideas that people will talk about. Listen to my interview with Shep Gordon for more of this, or just watch his incredible documentary Supermensch.
  3. Make polarizing work. Love it or hate it, Fried Barry cannot be ignored. It is so over the top and such a specific, hyper-individual vision that only Ryan could have made. These kinds of movies can be difficult to get approved, but they're a surefire way to get people oriented with your sensibility as a director - see Greasy Strangler for more on this. As Quentin Tarantino said, and I'm definitely paraphrasing, you should only make the kinds of movies that you were born to make, movies that only you would be capable of making instead of things that could be easily be done by someone else. 

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