You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Raindance: Kai Barry on Shooting Festival Opener ‘Newcomer’

LONDON — Extraordinarily for an opening-night film — and extremely heartening for aspiring filmmakers everywhere — Kai Barry’s first feature “Newcomer” came to the Raindance Film Festival programmers’ attention though open submissions. But after his film’s debut at the festival, Barry won’t be under the radar for much longer.

Filmed in Belgrade and starring “My Brother the Devil’s” James Floyd, “Newcomer” tells the story of Alex, an apparently bright young man who finds himself over his head when he applies for a job with a private firm protecting secret information.

Barry says: “The original thing was, I read a stat that said, in the U.S., 70% of the intelligent budget goes on independent contractors. Just reading that statistic, I thought, ‘There’s got to be a lot of confusion here, right?’ And I started to wonder: what is that world? Obviously there’s the James Bond world, but what about this world, where nobody knows who anybody really is? Misinformation can be as powerful as shooting people, or blowing things up, and that was the side of the spy world that I wanted to play with, and I wanted to keep everything as real as possible from that point forward.”

The result is an ingenious genre film that shows its hand when Alex’s first mission goes disastrously wrong and his entire team is wiped out in a matter of minutes. Accused of being a traitor, Alex goes on the run, and with only a sound recording of the murders to go on, he must piece together the events of the night, constantly imagining different scenarios.

“The most fun thing about spy movies — or any movie, really,” says Barry, “is when you suddenly look at everything differently. That was the goal. Each time you get a new piece of information, you start thinking, ‘Oh, this must be what the story is.’ And then it changes.”

This, says Barry, required a lot of planning. “You can’t really make a film like this without planning. I’d love to say I could just wing it, but that’s just not possible. I think I have a fairly spatial mind, but this film was very confusing to figure out, because you keep coming back to that same location and looking at it in different ways. So I drew out the whole set beforehand and made a 3D model of it, and at first we were going to build a stage and shoot everything that way. But we didn’t have the money to do that, so we had to find a location. We managed to find a location that was pretty similar but it still changed everything. Every little detail suddenly mattered — where the doorways were, how they moved in and out — so I had to then basically fine-tune the whole thing.”

What’s most impressive about “Newcomer,” however, is its commitment to realism: each new scenario is as plausible as the next. Do they all stand up to scrutiny?

“I’m sure if somebody looked really, really hard, they don’t,” he laughs. “But I definitely tried to think through every single bit of it, and James and I worked a lot on that together. There was a lot of ‘Does this make sense…?’ It’s easy to show something happening and then later say, ‘Actually, we lied to you.’ It needed to be plausible. We didn’t want to betray the audience.”

More Film

  • Melissa McCarthy as "Lee Israel" in

    Writers Guild Makes It Official: This Is the Most Wide-Open Oscars Race Ever

    For the record, we’re in uncharted territory this Oscar season. While we still have the costume designers’ ceremony to get through on Tuesday, the Writers Guild Awards put a bow on the major guild kudos circuit Sunday night. The results have yielded what is, unequivocally, the most wide-open Oscar field in history. The major guild [...]

  • Melissa McCarthy as "Lee Israel" and

    WGA Awards 2019: 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?,' 'Eighth Grade' Win Screenplay Awards

    In a pair of upsets, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” has won the Writers Guild of America’s adapted screenplay award for Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty and Bo Burnham has won the original screenplay award for “Eighth Grade.” “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” based on the memoir of the late Lee Israel, topped the screenplays [...]

  • Alita Battle Angel

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' No Match for China's 'Wandering Earth' Overseas

    Hollywood movies like “Alita: Battle Angel” and “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” are doing respectable business overseas, but they’re proving no match for foreign titles at the international box office. The Chinese New Year is bringing in huge business in the Middle Kingdom. China’s sci-fi epic “The Wandering Earth” pulled in a [...]

  • ABA_062_DAU_0060_v0409.87501 – Rosa Salazar stars as

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' Wins Dismal President's Day Weekend

    Fox’s sci-fi adventure “Alita: Battle Angel” dominated in North America, but its opening weekend win isn’t leaving the box office with much to celebrate. Tracking services estimate that this will be one of the lowest grossing President’s Day weekends in years. Ticket sales are on pace to be the smallest bounty for the holiday frame [...]

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Oscars Placeholder

    Make-Up and Hair Stylist Guild Applauds Academy's Stance on Airing Every Oscar Winner

    Rowdy boos were followed by triumphant cheers at the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards on Saturday in Los Angeles, as the Hollywood union touched on a week of controversy over a reversed decision to hand out four Oscars during the show’s commercial breaks. Hair and makeup was one of the four categories that would [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content