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. Wicked. Looking forward to it.

    • …and now that I have seen it…

      WOW! 5 stars!!! That was amazing!!!

      • 5 out of 20? Or just over stating that you like it? Or are you saying this is the pinnacle of cinema?

        • C-I-N-E-M-A!!!!

          I absolutely LOVED that. Low-budget has a very special charm to it.
          Loved how they were a French Documentary crew trying to get the “Truth in Journalism” about why Eddie Brock got fired from the Bugle. Loved all the comic book winks and nods.

          5/5 Great story. Well acted.

    • I’m a big fan of venom and that ain’t it!!!

  2. It’d be best, in my opinion, to put these characters in their own R-rated movies. Characters like Dredd, Deadpool, Venom, Spawn, Punisher and even Wolverine belong in this setting. But of course it’ll never happen.

    • @FilthPig

      Punisher :War Zone was R Rated.

      I cant see how blowing someone to pieces with a rocket launcher is PG-13.

      • True. Just make a better movie and do it right, although I’ll admit I didn’t hate PWZ. I actually liked it a lot better than the Tom Jane cheese-fest.

    • Hell, throw Ghost Rider in there as well. So much potential in a movie like these.

      • A ‘Rated R’ “Marvel Knights” film…


        We can all dream… can’t we?

        • I’m wondering if they’ll ever go that route. But ye we can at least dream.

        • I propose a separate Marvel Knights-themed studio, featuring Daredevil and The Kingpin all rated R. Throw in a Elektra: Assassin movie in and Marvel has me for another decade worth of movies!

    • Don’t forget the entire modern era of Marvel movies began with the R-Rated Blade. Unfortunately, these kinds of movies will probably be increasingly rare in the post-Avengers landscape. Why would Marvel make an R-rated Daredevil movie when they can just put out a PG-13 version, tie it in to the Avengers universe and make 3 times as much money.

      • Perhaps after they’ve gone through Phase 3 of the MCU and they have a large stable of mainstream, family-friendly blockbuster franchises they can start investing in some smaller, more creative, darker Marvel characters. The early entry of Guardians of the Galaxy shows at least some willingness to experiment, it seems. One can hope, anyway.

  3. “We’ll post Truth in Journalism here at Screen Rant as soon as the short comes out online (Wednesday July 29th)”

    • I thought the same thing haha… does that mean yesterday? or and alternate timeline of tomorrow?

      • Venom: Days of Future Past

    • Uguysrdabest

  4. Just watched The Punisher’s short film. Amazing work, was not expecting that. Really can’t wait for Truth in Journalism now.

  5. Wednesday, July 29th, huh?

  6. Just watched Dirty Laundry…this is how the Punisher should have been!!! Amazing work to be an independent film. Looking forward to the Truth in Journalism.

  7. Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!

    • Daniel Bryan is in the house!

      • Really? I can’t see him.

        Going back on topic, I wouldn’t mind seeing Venom and Punisher in the same movie. Will they be allies or enemies? Hmm… That would be interesting.

  8. I wonder if we will actually see Venom

  9. D Bry is king! no mention of Ziggler, or the sorry state of WWE at the moment?

    • what does wwe have to do with this at all ?

      • @Bree

        What does WWE have to do with it?

        Daniel Bryan was name-checked in the article. He’s a guy everyone in the business and all pro wrestling fans have respected for the past 13 years as one of the very best and a guy that gives it his all, even when what he’s doing is poorly written.

        That’s why the comparison was made.

        • *Bee, sorry, Bryan’s dating a pro wrestler called Brie Bella, got the names mixed up there.

          • lol the Bellas are bitches. D.Bry deserves to beat Cena at SS. But I hate the Bellas with a passion

    • People over the age of 12 shouldn’t watch professional wrestling.

      • Why not?

        I know I don’t watch any more (not since the start of this year) but that’s a personal decision.

        I mean, there are people in the early 40s still in the business who love it as much as the under 12s you mentioned.

        If we’re gonna go immature about what people can and can’t enjoy regardless of age then lets have a pop at the “bronies” because they’re truly pathetic, not adult pro wrestling fans.

        • Fella I’m twice that age and I still watch it because I follow the storyline. lol.

      • Okay, just because the end result of the matches is pre-determined, nobody over the age of 12 should want to watch that then?? I don’t see how that statement makes sense…I like watching WWE (and occasionally TNA) because the wrestlers bust their asses putting on great matches and risking their bodies, many get injured and have to get surgeries, or take time off for months to recover, Example: Rock dropped the title to Cena this year at Wrestlmania, back in April, and he got a torn abductor which he is still recovering from, and may never wrestle again because of it. My point is, just because YOU don’t like pro wrestling, doesn’t mean other people shouldn’t.

        • I used to think this was all fake bullsh*t but I’ve actually come to respect wrestlers thanks to Aronofsky’s brilliant movie. I still don’t watch wrestling because I have no interest whatsoever in this kind of stuff, but people shouldn’t demean it and they especially shouldn’t think it’s a kids’ thing. Kids shouldn’t be exposed to such violence, even if it is scripted.

        • @ TED, check the NHL/NFL injuries list sometime. I’m not sure how wrestlers being injured make the event any less silly. As a former fan too, I can’t even bare to watch it, such a joke.

  10. I would love to see more of these films done in a Marvel Knights theme: Ghost Rider, and DareDevil next would be awesome. I liked ” Dirty Laundry,” last year and I’m looking forward to the Venom short film.

  11. They should have used the Flash Thompson version of Venom that would lend itself perfectly to an R rated film.

  12. I, for one, would be very happy to see an Agent Venom movie. An R rated one, of course, because Agent Venom is essentially The Punisher in symbiote suite (a bit tamer perhaps, but still kicking all kinds of ass).

  13. Love this approach. More Marvel AdiShankarverse!

  14. Isnt MAN BITES DO instead dog bites man?

  15. I would love to see a DeadPool Movie but for me; in order to do justice to the character; the movie would have to be R Rated. Unfortunately; Marvel movies are PG-13. I understand that in order to make millions of dollars ; they are forced to do family friendly movies.

  16. Better than spider-man 3

  17. I would love to see a Dead Pool Movie but for me; in order to do justice to the character; the movie would have to be R -Rated. Unfortunately; Marvel movies are PG-13. I understand that in order to make millions of dollars ; they are forced to do family friendly movies.

  18. Not as well as the Castle one.

  19. EXCELLENT! I would gladly fund a kickstarter for a Venom movie from these guys! Ryan Kwanten is the sole redeeming factor of the ridiculous True Blood and played an amazing Brock! Shankar has made two incredible shorts now! If he can get these out quicker he could put out a DVD of 6 or 7 shorts! Personally I hope he does Deadpool next!

  20. Wow. Fantastic. Very well done. Loved he docu angle. Ryan did a fantastic job. Nailed it. Also really enjoyed the venom transformation. For having little budget, they did a great job. Bullseye was cool too.

  21. Is that bullseye at the end?

  22. This was a Venom movie?

  23. Awesome. Was so happy it paid off in the end. Great cameo too. Keep em coming…

  24. The venom transformation was amazing!!!!!

  25. That was perfectly awesome… And they had Bullseye!

  26. I liked Dirty Laudry better, but this was very cool.

  27. That was was pretty cool. I think they could’ve done the Venom scene a lot better if they had the budget, but I liked the idea.

  28. Underwhelmed.

  29. I actually thought it was pretty creepy even if the Venom stuff wasn’t Big Budget quality. It was like the Blair Witch project meets American Psycho. I think Ryan Kwanten pulled off what Topher Grace attempted to do in Spiderman 3. He showed Brock as a guy who tried to act like he had it all together, but in reality with a down on his luck shlub. I liked the 80′s setting as opposed to setting it today, though I would like to see his Brock act with Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker.