Jamin Winans Interview
Jamin Winans is the writer and director of the highly acclaimed indie film, Ink. The film has already become a massive cult hit with very little promotion behind it. It is a mix of horror and science fiction with an original storyline that is the key to its success, making Winans a hot tipped filmmaker for the future. Charlotte Stear had the fantastic opportunity to talk to him about the success of the film, his inspiration and his future plans.
Charlotte Stear: Ink has been a massive cult success so far, when you started making this movie did you ever think it would make such an impact?
Jamin Winans: No, when you're making a sci-fi/fantasy with a shoestring budget you're just praying it's not going to be complete crap. We put a lot of heart into it, but that doesn't always translate to the screen. There were moments during the edit when all I could think was “What have I done? I've made the worst film ever”. But then the next day I would find optimism again.
When we first started screening the film and fans started coming forward it just about brought me to tears. We spent 2 years and just about killed ourselves making the film so there couldn't have been a better feeling.
CS: How did you come up with the idea for Ink? Was it a gradual process which you added ideas to, or did it all come to you quite clearly?
JW: I had started with an image that I had in my mind since I was a little kid. When I was about 4, Disney's Snow White just about rocked my world, but I would have these lucid nightmares that the witch (in old woman form) was trying to kidnap me while I slept. I always thought it was a compelling image so I built a story around it. It's hard to say exactly how long I worked on the script because I had it in my head for some time, but it was probably about a year of real work with the ideas coming gradually.
CS: It’s a pretty complex film with lots of genres mixed in there, what kind of audience did you initially expect it to attract?
JW: I knew it wasn't going to be a genre that already existed, which is always a risk. But ultimately I made a film that I really wanted to see. I suspected there were a lot of others out there that would enjoy seeing the same thing too. Some of my favorite films coming up have been Dark City, 12 Monkeys, City Of Lost Children, anything from Charlie Kaufman. All these films have challenged conventional genre models and given the audience something new. I think I'm always hoping I can do the same.
CS: Did you have many problems in funding and getting the film made?
JW: Initially we tried to pull together a $2-3 million budget through more of a “Hollywood” method and production company. We tried sending the script to various agents and getting a name attached, but we really didn't have any connections at the time and no one would even read our treatment or script. We knew that would probably be the case and gave it three months to go anywhere. In the meantime we went ahead and started creating a budget and business plan for a shoestring version of the film.
We started talking to all our friends and making contacts, we remortgaged our house so we could invest ourselves, and about 7 months later we had our budget of $250k. But we were only able to pull that much together because we had already made a feature film and several shorts that had gotten attention. Regardless, it was a big risk for all our investors to take and we still feel pretty fortunate they had the faith in us.
CS: The Incubi are pretty creepy guys and look fantastic, where did the inspiration for them come from?
JW: Thanks a lot. It seems like the best ideas end up coming from the story first. A theme I'm often attracted to is the idea of seeing the world through different perspectives and I saw the incubi as seeing the world through a very limited perspective. I thought it would be interesting if they had some sort of glass they looked through that would show them the world they wanted to see, one without color. So eventually I just had this idea of these guys walking around with glass in front of their faces all the time. It was a big risk because it could have looked really stupid. I even panicked on set at one point, because the effect wasn't there yet and it looked really lame, but fortunately it turned out.
CS: A lot of people have been comparing you to Christopher Nolan due to the ways in which you tell your story and the subject matter which is pretty flattering! Which films and directors influenced you to becoming a filmmaker?
JW: That is a huge compliment. I'm a big fan. I'm a really big fan of movies in general so it's hard to pinpoint the biggest influences. I think the obvious ones are Terry Gilliam, Alex Proyas, Jean Pierre-Jeunet. But one of my favorite filmmakers is Michael Mann. I just think he can make virtually anything interesting. I also love filmmakers that might not be so obvious like Krzysztof Kieslowski, Frank Capra, Barry Levinson and many more. I always tell my wife I love anyone who's attempting to make “cinema” and not just movies.
CS: I loved the music you used in the film, was the soundtrack an important aspect when you made this film? How do you go about incorporating the music, was it something you figured out at the start or after the film had been made?
JW: Thanks for that. I worked on the soundtrack simultaneously with the script. Often, when I'm working on a scene I get ideas of mood and tone, so I'll try and get those ideas down while they're fresh. A lot of times when I work on the music, it in turn inspires new ideas for the script and the direction. So for Ink I had written about half the music in advance. I actually used some of it on set in a few occassions like the scene we call “Jacob's Chain” where everything is happening on the beat. It can be a great way to work, but time consuming.
CS: My favourite scene is when the Pathfinder orchestrates the events that lead up to John’s car crash, I think it’s poetic and beautiful to watch. Could you say a few things about this scene, or is there a particular stand out scene that you’re proud of?
JW: Thanks, I like that scene too. It's an idea I've come back to a few times and I think it hits because we're all fascinated with the huge consequences of minor actions. I think it illustrates what we know goes on in the world, but can't see so plainly.
It was a tedious scene to shoot. Most of it was actually shot with just a four person crew including myself (our regular crew was about 10). Jeff Pointer, the director of photography, and I went down well in advance and shot a video storyboard of the whole sequence in advance so that we knew exactly how it would flow and cut. It was actually a really technical process. Fortunately, Jeremy Make (Jacob) came in and really brought it to life.
CS: Do you have any projects you are working on now or any major plans for the future?
JW: I keep suggesting that I'm going to get into basket weaving, but no one takes me seriously. So we have a new film that we're hoping to be shooting this year. It's very hush-hush at the moment, but it's a sci-fi/fantasy that we're really excited about. The best way for your readers to keep up to date is to find us on Facebook by searching “Ink”.
CS: Jamin, thanks for taking the time to talk to us.
JW: Thanks so much for the great questions, compliments, and opportunity to talk about our film. We really appreciate it.
Special Edition Ink DVDs, Blu-rays, T-Shirts and other merchandise are available from Jamin Winans' official website.