Venom ‘Truth in Journalism’ Short Film & Interview with Producer Adi Shankar [Updated]

Published 2 years ago by , Updated October 9th, 2013 at 1:39 pm,

Last year, producer Adi Shankar (Dredd) and director Phil Joanou wowed Comic-Con 2012 audiences with the 10-minute short film Dirty Laundry, which saw Thomas Jane reprise his role as one of Marvel’s most famous antiheroes, The Punisher. This year, Shankar returned to San Diego with a new short film featuring the Marvel character Venom called Truth in Journalism.

The movie, directed by Joe Lynch (Knights of Badassdom) and featuring True Blood‘s Ryan Kwanten as Eddie Brock/Venom, is a darkly comic combination of 1980s era Spider-Man comics and the cult Belgian mockumentary Man Bites Dog (which follows a horrifying day in the life of a psychopathic serial killer).

We had a chance to talk to Shankar about the short as well as his unique philosophy on genre filmmaking:

SR: I know that you’re a comic book fan from way back. What was your intention in making this your next short film?

AS: The concept behind ‘Truth in Journalism’ is one I’ve had for a while. It was actually an idea I had for either a ‘Dredd‘ sequel or a ‘Duke Nukem’ movie. The idea was to take ‘Man Bites Dog,’ that super-niche movie, and mash it up with a well-known antihero. Essentially then, you’re making a dark comedy. It’s a concept where you’re taking a character that’s inherently over the top, then you drop him or her into an overly realistic, grounded reality. So you have everyone around this person scratching their heads going, “Dude, why is this guy behaving like a cartoon character?”

Ryan Kwanten is a such a fantastic actor because its nearly impossible to make something like that believable. 10 times out of 10 Ryan brings a sincerity and emotional kineticism to every performance that elevates the material … He’s the Daniel Bryan of Hollywood.

(This comment led to a roughly 10-minute conversation about professional wrestling. We probably could have gone for two hours, but we got things back on track.)

Venom Movie Script Details Venom Truth in Journalism Short Film & Interview with Producer Adi Shankar [Updated]

SR: Obviously, this is something that’s just for fun, but is there anyway to tie this up into what the big studios are doing – like Sony with Spider-Man or Marvel with The Avengers? Can you use these shorts as a launching pad to propose adding some of these characters into those franchises, or is just out of the question?

It’s out of the question for a bunch of reasons. When you’re removing these characters from all the commercial stuff, from having to engineer into the Robert Downey Jr. version of The Avengers universe, then you’re inherently restricting the characters. The Spider-Man universe is PG-13. The Avengers universe is Pg-13. These are essentially Pixar movies at this point. Venom, The Punisher, Deadpool…these characters kind of exist in their own world.

At the end of the day, I do these for fun and creative fulfillment. It’s a chance to work with people that I really like and really believe in.

Ryan Kwanten Venom Truth in Journalism Venom Truth in Journalism Short Film & Interview with Producer Adi Shankar [Updated]

SR: You seem to have a really good read on how video and film is being distributed – whether Video on Demand, Netflix or whatever. Both Dirty Laundry and Truth in Journalism are being released directly to the Web.What’s your approach to video distribution now?

If you go back to 2001 and you wanted to watch entertainment you had the movies in theaters, the movies in discount theaters, the movies at Blockbuster, your personal DVD collection, and what was on TV. And that was it. Today, with the click of a button, you basically have everything that was ever made available to you, within reason. In five years, you are literally going to have everything that was ever made available to you with the click of a button.

As a result, people are no longer incentivized to say, “Hey it’s Saturday, let me get out of my house, go to a movie theater, pay $20, get popcorn and watch a movie,” especially if the movie feels like another version of something they could see on Netflix. That is a paradigm shift that just happened and people weren’t really anticipating it, but, especially for younger people, it’s a big thing.


We’ll have Truth in Journalism here at Screen Rant on Wednesday. In the meantime, what do you think about characters like The Punisher and Venom? Is there a way to bring them into their respective mainstream movie universes while still being true to the characters, or do they exist in their own world as Shankar says?

Follow Rob Frappier on Twitter @robfrappier
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  1. Loved it. Great riff on Man Bites Dog.

  2. It was decent (but nothing more) until the transformation into Venom and then it just got silly.

    Didn’t much like the Bullseye cameo at the end either.

  3. Marvel will never back a big, mainstream superhero/villain movie that’s rated R. They are far more about the wide audiences than DC is. Sad to say it, since I used to hate DC characters, but Marvel has completely dropped the ball with their PC, bloodless, almost deathless live action superhero movies. Comic books can be totally unbelievable, and you still want to buy them. Live action is a different story. When you bring these characters into the real world, they need real consequences of using their super powers. DC seems to have found this chink in Marvel’s movie armor, and is now delivering more realistic movies than Marvel. I’ve always even hated Superman, but after seeing the realism in the Man of Steel, I’m hooked. Marvel needs to step up, or just stop it already with the crap.

    • Well, you say that but you forget that Man-Thing came out in 2005 and the first scene in that movie was a topless woman getting killed while having sex with her boyfriend in a wooden rowboat.

      Granted, the rest of the film sucked but hey, it was rated 18 (which is the UK equivalent to the R rating over there).

    • I agree with raymond tilson, and I can’t imagine Marvel ever having a character as unsettling as Ledger’s Joker in a major movie. The closest they’ve been recently was probably Fassbender’s Magneto, but they balanced that out by making other parts of the movie, particularly the mutant kids, overly saccharine (case in point, as much as I love First Class, the “mutant and proud” line makes me face-palm every time).

      Regarding the Venom video, I thought it was pretty damn excellent. Even fresher and more compelling than the very engaging Punisher short made last year, IMO. The effects were done as well as they could be on a small budget, and with a little more money I think they’d be very believable. My only gripe is a small one, as I think the French-speaking actors could have freaked out a little earlier and bolted for the door once the transformation took place.

      While I don’t believe “dark is always better”, there is certainly (artistically speaking) a gap in the market for a medium-sized budget version of things like this Venom short.

      • I honestly preferred the Punisher short. Which is a shame because Venom is one of my fave characters.

    • there is Punisher and Blade movies that were rated R.

  4. nice! really enjoyed it! soooo much better than topher grace!

  5. I heard that Denis Sergovskiy is actually the Visual FX Venom!

    I’m a huge fan of VENOM and Denis. He would be PERFECT for a Venom movie. Make it happen Marvel!

  6. Marvel and DC should both realize there is enough room to do pg 13 movies and with the adult themed harsher comics do r rated movies. I remember reading how Nolan wss once toying with the idea of a pg 13 Batman and an R rated version. This can and should be done

  7. first this was a terrible way to do this short film. Second, they had a low budget but only used 10 dolloars XD this was a terrible eddie brock and it was so dumb…they did not need to say the “f” word at the end thats what ruined it. Ya on “f” word is fine but saying over and over wasnt even funy. Aand the guy killed the same people twice. This was trash. Not the venom i wanna see

    • so it was trash because YOU didnt get the venom you wanted ? ok

  8. The Mockumentary is actually called “Man Bites Dog”

  9. Original title: C’Est Arrivé Près De Chez Vous, which roughly translates into “It happened in your neighborhood.” Great mockumentary involving very dark humor (the Gregory cocktail is named after the real-life murder of a young french boy) and intense graphic violence. The main lead, Benoît Poelvoorde, went on to become a very famous french comedy actor, and he also starred in a few more serious roles.

    • By the way, I had no idea this movie also went cult in non-french speaking countries.