Perhaps you know Adi Shankar for his executive producer credit on movies like Pete Travis' Dredd or Liam Neeson wolf-puncher The Grey. Maybe you know him more for his on point fan-movie shorts like Dirty Laundry, James Bond In Service Of Nothing or that 2015 Power Rangers short that starred Katee Sackhoff and James Van Der Beek. Soon you're about to know him for making a new animated Castlevania series for Netflix.
"If I'm a fan, then I'm down to work on it, and this doesn't just apply to Castlevania, this is a general way I approach everything," he says carefully, unable to reveal much about the Netflix show that is shrouded in secrecy. "I'm looking at it in terms of 'what about this inspired me before me adapting anything was a possibility?' If I can tap into what about it made me go 'wow, this is cool' then I think it's absolutely worth exploring."
He says Castlevania is one of the first games he ever played. "I could literally talk for hours about the aspects of Castlevania that I loved," he says, before reluctantly explaining that he's not allowed to at the moment. Back in February he caused a huge stir when he teased the project, stating "I personally guarantee that it will end the streak and be the western world’s first good video game adaptation."
The way I see it, all the innovation that's happening in storytelling is happening in gaming. It's not happening in movies. That's why no one cares about movies as much as they use to
Shankar grew up in the late eighties, mainly between Hong Kong and Singapore, so the games he played were the sort that hardcore Western gaming fans typically paid huge sums to import. "I played a lot of Japanese games, so to me Resident Evil was Biohazard," he says. "Growing up I was really into immersive RPGs because I didn't have people to play video games with on a consistent basis and co-op wasn't really a thing back then."
He fell in love with the flair and costumes of SNK arcade game King Of Fighters, and then in college he became a "Halo fanatic," preferring the pace of action to other shooters. "With Halo it almost felt like playing chess," he says.
"I think that's when gaming started becoming more and more of a mainstream thing. With the Xbox, that generation, the games became more simple in their mechanics and more complex in their design. Games like Halo and Madden, in my opinion, made gaming mainstream."
Shankar is currently crazy busy, and he claims he's only been able to carve out enough time for gaming by cutting down on the numbers of movies he watches. "The way I see it, all the innovation that's happening in storytelling is happening in gaming. It's not happening in movies. That's why no one cares about movies as much as they use to," he says.
"Right now I'm oscillating between a few different games. First there's Overwatch. I love playing three versus three as Roadhog. I also play Doom on arcade mode and I can play Resident Evil in Playstation VR for two minute bursts before I freak out. I also just started playing For Honor."
As well as producing a series about a classic game, Shankar also wants to create a game himself someday, citing Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima as a major influence. "I want to tap into whatever life-force that guy tapped into," he says. "I've had video game companies reach out to me about writing the story for the next installment of their franchises, and that's kind of cool. Once that became a reality I started asking how much does it have to fit? Could it be more of a parallel take on the mechanics of a franchise?"
Fred Seibert, the founder of Frederator (the animation studio behind The Fairly OddParents, Adventure Time, and Bee and Puppycat) and producer Kevin Kolde (Adventure Time, Fanboy and Chum Chum) are both confirmed as producers on Shankar's Castlevania, while cult writer Warren Ellis – best known for novels like Crooked Little Vein and his work on Marvel comics – is providing the story. It'll follow the last surviving Belmont and we should see the first episodes towards the end of 2017. "It's going to be dark, satirical, and after a decade of propaganda it will flip the vampire sub-genre on its head," promises Shankar.