Ryan McHenry was born and raised in Dumfries and a film fan from a young age. He and his friends would make crazy home videos inspired by the likes of Jackass, Quentin Tarantino and Lord of the Rings. Following his film making passion, Ryan went to study at Edinburgh College of Art in 2007.
Whilst at ECA, Ryan dreamt up the idea for a ‘Zombie Musical’ short film when he saw a trailer for High School Musical and thought it would be much better if Zac Efron was eaten by zombies. Ryan wrote and directed the short in 2010, together with his friends from his hometown of Dumfries – Naysun Alae-Carew who produced both the short and the feature, and Ryan Clachrie who was the Production Designer on both as well. They shot the film in Dumfries at Ryan McHenry’s old high school and went on to screen footage at the Dumfries Film Festival.
The short film went on to win a New Talent BAFTA and was picked up by a Glasgow based production company to be turned into a feature, with Ryan directing and Naysun producing. Ryan was joined in writing duties by Alan McDonald and they began scripting the feature film.
In 2013 Ryan achieved global internet fame as the creator of the vines ‘Ryan Gosling Won’t Eat His Cereal’, throwing him closer to his dream of shooting the feature that was now called ‘Anna and the Apocalypse’. The creative team was joined by Roddy Hart and Tommy Reilly to compose the music, and Nic Crum as Naysun’s fellow producer. But as they made concrete plans to make the film – with much of the crew that had made the original short film – Ryan was suddenly diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.
Tragically, Ryan passed away in 2015, at the age of 27. However, his friends were determined to get the film made and embarked on the hunt for a director who could honour Ryan’s ideas while also making the film his or her own.
John McPhail brought his love of horror, distrust of musicals, keen wit and enormous heart to the project. This added to Ryan’s wickedly written set-pieces, Alan’s sharply observed high school characters and Roddy and Tommy’s incessantly catchy tunes to create the mashup delight that has become Anna and the Apocalypse.
The Anna and the Apocalypse family has expanded to include everyone at Blazing Griffin, our fellow producer Tracy Jarvis at Parkhouse Pictures, an amazing cast and crew, as well as Creative Scotland, Orion Releasing, Vertigo Releasing and a huge list of people and companies who have all made the film what it is today.
Ryan’s legacy is enshrined in the film that is Anna and the Apocalypse, and what we hope are many more aspects of Anna’s story to come. But the true legacy is in the friendships and family that have been built around a film made with love, and for that we will always be truly thankful to Ryan.