Truth in Journalism is a 17-minute short fan film, unveiled to eager fans at San Diego Comic-Con 2013, featuring one of Spider-Man’s most iconic foes—Eddie Brock (Venom)—a Daily Bugle reporter who’s always hungry for a new story.
Eddie Brock is played by Ryan Kwanten (TrueBlood) and does a remarkable job of playing an over-the-top, stereotypical journalist/anti-hero in a gritty and grounded world, sprinkled with influences from the film noir genre. The short is presented as a found-footage mockumentary which adds great texture to the experience. Truth in Journalism is written and directed by Joe Lynch, and produced by Adi Shankar and Sam Balcomb. Adi Shankar had released The Punisher: Dirty Laundry fan film to unsuspecting fans, so he’s gotten himself a pretty decent track record for these things.
Adi Shankar’s thoughts on pursuing creative projects:
“I don’t subscribe to the school of thought that as a feature film producer I shouldn’t dabble in television, web content, or even comic books … that thinking perpetuates the consumerist mosh pit we are now desperately trying to dig ourselves out of. I have a burning desire to entertain and different mediums allow me to do this in different ways. These shorts are as much a part of my filmography as the movies are. I’m here now, I’m inevitably going to die at some point, and as an artist I feel an ardent urge to constantly be creating. “
The short film takes place in 1980’s New York City, and features a soundtrack to help support the look and feel. The short if filmed on 16mm black and white film, the lead title scores are in French, and the film offers French subtitles. Joe Lynch is paying homage to the French indie film Man Bites Dog; he claims it’s the “spiritual ancestor” of Truth in Journalism. Pay close attention to the lead credits for more hints indicating this overt influence.
Fans almost universally despised Topher Grace’s portrayal of Venom in Spider-Man 3. I stand firm on the belief that fans shouldn’t attach the character’s failings to Grace’s name: remember, before Venom got shoehorned as a thing in that movie, there were plenty of people who signed off the direction all along the way. The actor usually gets crapped on, but it’s producers, the casting team, the character designers, the director, and the writers that should get the heat.
Venom’s amorphous, muscle-bulging size has become a defining aspect of the character. The lack of this characteristic was distracting in Spider-Man 3‘s Venom design, but somehow doesn’t hinder Truth in Journalism. This is likely because Eddie Brock’s story is the central focus of this flick; he’s not just there to inevitably give us Venom. Kwanten delivers on the creepy psychotic elements of a man who shares his mind and body with an alien symbiote. He’s a man who’s overtly indifferent to the horrible things he witnesses as a reporter. He has no apathy whatsoever. He’s already a monster. The transformation, itself, is a manifestation of Brock’s boiling frustrations. It’s additive to the whole.
The Venom design, although not a hulking mound of muscles, does succeed at depicting the alien well enough. The practical direction of the design left me wishing for CGI instead, or at least a mix of CG and practical. Sticking to the faux-’80s motif that’s so strong in this short film, though, I think going purely practical harkens back to a time in film when all monsters were brought to life without CGI so I can ignore this small gripe.
This short is a well produced, high-caliber fan film and will end up in the top echelon of everyone’s must-watch fan film list. Make sure you watch past the end credits!