Adi Shankar on Hollywood Sexism vs. The Female Expendables
Adi Shankar doesn’t play your drokking rules, man. The producer of badass action films like The Grey, Lone Survivor and Dredd 3D seems to make the films he wants to make, even if he can’t make a dime off of them. Case in point: the viral sensation Power/Rangers, which placed the beloved children’s franchise into a new ultraviolent universe, even though Shankar doesn’t own the rights to the characters.
It’s all part of his “Bootleg Universe,” which includes online shorts like Venom: Truth in Journalism and The Punisher: Dirty Laundry. Adi Shankar has plans for more of these films, as you will learn in the following interview (his plans for George Clooney are particularly exciting). But he’s not backing down from features anytime soon.
His latest, The Voices, is a funny and terrifying new serial killer film which stars Ryan Reynolds as a mild-mannered man whose pets talk to him, and tell him to murder. It’s one of the best films of the year so far, and it’s out on Blu-ray and DVD today, so I got Adi Shankar on the phone to find out more about how he gets unlikely movies made, and also catch up on the progress of his all-star female action hero movie. Gina Carano and Katee Sackhoff are attached, but we haven’t heard anything official about the film (which the internet has dubbed “The Female Expendables,” because we don’t know what else to call it yet).
The news is sad, but Adi Shankar refuses to give up on the project, even if combating Hollywood sexism means changing the story to feature more men in it. (Don’t worry. If Shankar has his way, they won’t have much to do.)
Check Out: ‘The Voices’ Review: Unspeakably Brilliant
CraveOnline: You’re a producer I think we all look on with great interest. You have very eclectic taste, which I like.
Adi Shankar: Thanks man!
Is that something that comes entirely naturally? Do you just green light what you think is cool, or is there a more complicated thought process behind it?
No, I think it’s just that. I mean, it’s just that. Everything I’ve ever done, whether it’s one of my bootlegs or one of those quote-unquote “proper” movies. It’s all been about antiheroes, people that are misunderstood. Other than that, no.
That’s an interesting distinction to make in your work. It seems like, for example, the Power Rangers wouldn’t be considered antiheroes, but then you switched that around.
Was that a conscious thing? Were you like, “I’m not making a Power Rangers thing unless I make them antiheroes?”
No, no, no. I actually realized that I’m… I have this friend in film school. He’s from India. He was actually born in the same small town I was born in, and then I found out he went to film school out here, and I befriended this dude and I’m just like giving him advice and stuff. We come from a really small town in India, but he made that point: “Everything you do is about antiheroes.” So I realized this in December of last year, after Power/Rangers had already been shot, after Superfiend had been released. So this is actually a new epiphany.
Do you feel like you want to mix that up now, or do you want to embrace it and make that a mission statement?
I don’t believe in mission statements. I think mission statements are always lies, you know? Like, mission statements are a great way to lie because it’s like, “This is my mission.”
Look, I think fundamentally you’re one of two kinds of people: you either believe that humans invented invented language in order to tell the truth and communicate, or that humans invented language in order to lie to one another. And I think humans invented language in order to lie to one another because animals communicate just fine with just a look, right? If anything, words have dulled our senses.
So a mission statement is like a perfect… it’s like a corporate lie. It’s like, “Oh! We believe in social responsibility!” Like, fuck you, no you don’t.