Monster Exclusive: Interview with Ryan E. Francis – ThanksKilling (2009)

This Thanksgiving, I had the honor of chatting with the talented performer, Ryan E. Francis, from the 2009 cult classic film, ThanksKilling. I had the chance to sit down with the actor, producer and musical artist, and ask him a few questions. We discussed life, his music career and his minor involvement in film. 

Ryan E. Francis was born on July 8th, 1986 in Columbus, Ohio.

Monster: How did you know at such a young age that acting and performing was in your blood? 

Ryan: My mom raised me on theater and music. I guess I was always kind of a spaz as a kid and enjoyed acting. My first theater play was a musical at church. And that’s really what kicked it off. It was my creative outlet. Making people laugh was something that I found enjoyable.

 Monster: According to IMDB, you “played the drums in a female-fronted political punk band called Overated.” Will you elaborate a little further about that part of your life and tell us what it was like being a member of the band? 

Ryan: Overated (spelled incorrectly on purpose haha) was a really fun point in my life. We were just a three-piece punk band, playing in basements and garages. As we got older, we had some pretty rad opportunities…from playing the Vans Warped Tour in ‘05 and ‘06, to performing at Riot Fest in Chicago and opening for some of the bigger names in punk (ranging from the Misfits, to The Unseen, A Global Threat, UK Subs, The Casualties, Strike Anywhere and even The Gaslight Anthem and The Loved Ones). This was back when MySpace was huge. We played our final show in 2008. It was a fantastic run and I’m blessed that I got to be a part of that.

 Monster: You own and operate your own record label in Columbus, Ohio, called  REF Records. You’re locally known and perform as your nerd-core hip hop alter ego, Huge Euge. How did Huge Euge originate and what was it like transitioning to hip hop after being in a punk band for nine years? 

Ryan: Hahaha, oh man. This IMDB page needs a facelift. I started Huge Euge after Overated broke up, simply because it was an artistic outlet that I could pursue without needing to start from scratch with a band. REF Records wasn’t a true label, more so a title I used when recording early hip hop on my laptop in a basement. I still perform to this day, currently competing in a national event called the Nerdcore VPC (Vocalist Producer Challenge). It is going on through January. I have paired up with a great friend of mine who does amazing graphic design work and beat production, Ax Stinnett (https://axmediallc.threadless.com/) and we’re just having a blast creating! I’m in my eighth year doing an annual charity event called The Huge Euge Holiday Show. We raise money for the local homeless shelter in Columbus, OH, and have a bunch of bands play. We also have stand up comedy and even a magician! This year, our special guest host is Lori Beth Denberg from Nickelodeon’s All That and Figure it Out! Past guests have included SAMWELL (What What in the Butt), Mega Ran, Schaffer the Darklord, Phil Moore (Nick Arcade), Virgil (WWE)…it’s just a killer time to let loose and have fun in the holiday season. It’s also one of the only shows I perform at each year.

 Monster: How did you land the role of Darren in the 2009 independent horror-comedy, ThanksKilling

Ryan: Back in high school, I grew up with director of ThanksKilling, Jordan Downey (Go watch The Head Hunter 2018 on demand, NOW!). He went away to school in California and came back a few years later for a college project (which was ThanksKilling). I read the script in a donut shop and he asked me to play Darren the Nerd. The rest is history!

 Monster: When you were cast in ThanksKilling, did you ever envision the film becoming the beloved holiday cult classic that it is today? What are your thoughts on the film? Have you watched it and do you enjoy it? 

Ryan: I never thought it’d see the light of day, honestly. Considered it more of a project for Jordan and Kevin Stewart (Producer and DP of ThanksKilling) for school. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever see a full feature or not, but didn’t care. It was so fun to help create on the front line. The film took off. Blew my mind. Still does to this day, completely unexpected. I’m proud of what the film has done, and proud of what Jordan and Kevin created. They worked super hard. 

I love the film. It’s been over 10 years since it was released, and people still talk about it. That’s pretty neat. The movie is horrible, but in a fun way. It really plays on the “bad horror movie” trope.

 Monster: During a scene in ThanksKilling, when the kids are all in the Jeep, a song from your band Overated can be heard playing. Can you tell us more about that, and the flashback dream scene where Darren runs through the cornfield  – which ended up being the only scene not used in the film? 

Ryan: Yeah, Jordan needed some music. Since Overated just cut an EP in the studio, he found a place for a song. 

Now this cornfield scene…I don’t even remember this! Lol do you have the clip?! My mind is blown right now haha. I don’t even recall.

 Monster: You’re an Executive Producer of two separate Small Town Monsters films, Boggy Creek Monster (2016) and The Mothman of Point Pleasant (2017). How did you become involved in producing and do you ever plan on making a return to movies yourself? 

Ryan: My friend Adam Whitton owns Cyfuno Ventures (https://www.cyfuno.com/), which is a company that acts as a middleman between filmmakers and distribution companies. I worked with Adam on both of these fantastic films, on the post production distribution elements. It really is a whole new element in the film industry that I had an opportunity to learn. 

There are no plans for film in my future. But the future is a weird place, so you never know.

 Monster: Where can fans follow you on social media and stay current with what you’re up too? 

Ryan: I’m on Instagram (thatguyintk1). https://instagram.com/thatguyintk1

Posted by Donovan Smith

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