An interview with Ink’s Jamin Winans

Writer-Director-Jamin-WinanInterview with Jamin Winans about his film, Ink. First published back in April 2011 on Smellofnapalm.com (which has since gone offline). He had a lot of (still relevant) views regarding piracy so I thought I’d reproduce it here for interest. Jamin was really receptive to my questions and as you’ll see, more than happy to give extended, thoughtful answers.

Piracy and torrent downloads reportedly gave Ink massive exposure and you are quoted to have said that you “embraced the piracy” – was that specific to your film, or are you unperturbed by piracy in general? Do you believe it has the potential to be beneficial to film makers?

That’s a really great question and actually one that no one else has asked. There have been some misconceptions about how the piracy happened with Ink. Some have thought we released it ourselves on torrent and that’s not true. It was torrented by someone who bought the disk just a few days after it was released.

Suddenly it blew up on Pirate Bay and we were honestly shocked. However, when we initially released Ink in the States we had absolutely no marketing money. An underground fanbase was developing, but it was at a trickle. When Ink hit the torrent sites our sales shot way up and the exposure was unprecedented. Ink was ranked around #12,000 on IMDB before the piracy and then it shot to #16 in a week and #14 the next week. In regards to exposure it was competing with all the major Hollywood films. Obviously the piracy was a good thing for us and so we embraced it.

My feelings about piracy of other films are mixed. I don’t see any reason why people in the States need to pirate films when there are services like Netflix that are very inexpensive, extremely convenient, and have every movie you can imagine. But the Hollywood model for the rest of the world seems to be antiquated. Frequently films don’t come out for months if not years after their release in the States and when they do come out they’re often overpriced for a lot of people in other areas of the world.

I’m not saying I condone the piracy as ethical, but I certainly understand why most piracy comes from outside the States. We’ve lived in Bulgaria for a few months and there piracy is just a way of life. There are no video stores anywhere and the only way to get a movie is to download it illegally for free or rent it on iTunes for $3.99. For a Bulgarian that it would be like spending $10-$15 to watch a movie when you can get it for free.

I would think Hollywood would be wise to start making their films available everywhere instantly for a very affordable price and do it as soon as possible. Otherwise they’re fighting a losing battle because there doesn’t seem to be a good way to inforce anti-piracy in the States let alone worldwide.

How piracy might help other filmmakers I don’t know. I think it helped Ink enormously because we had a good deal of word of mouth in advance while no one could see it. Ink is also a film that fit the piratebay demographic more than a lot of indie films so I wonder how successful a torrent release would be for most indie films. Above all else I think indie filmmakers need to make their films available any way possible because their greatest threat isn’t piracy, but obscurity.

You may be unwilling to state outright, but viewers the world over will no doubt be as curious as I am…who is Liev? (And is it deliberately “Veil” backwards?”

Wow, another thoughtful question. And I know what you’re getting at, but that’s actually one question I’m going to leave open simply because I hate to alter someone else’s experience by adding my own commentary.

What was the most difficult aspect of bringing your vision for Ink to the screen? For example, for a picture of Ink’s size and scope you were working within a relatively minuscule budget, was that incredibly limiting?

The budget was a huge challenge, but it also gave us tremendous freedom. The more money a film takes to make, the more restrictions you have. Our tiny budget let us make the movie we wanted to make. That said, we all almost died making it. It was the most exhausting and emotionally draining experience I have every been through. It was a marathon shoot that lasted 83 days and we were always way under-crewed, under-paid, and overworked. But hey, we were making a movie, what room do we have to complain? We owe an enormous amount of gratitude to our very small crew who shouldered an enormous amount of our budgetary limitations. To some degree the budget forced us to be a lot more creative. We were making decisions we wouldn’t normally make if we could just throw money at a problem. And to a large degree I think the film benefits from it. It’s just a shame it took a couple years off my life.

What was your main inspiration behind the film?

As a kid I grew up having lucid nightmares about the witch from Snow White trying to kidnap me while I was sleeping. Yes, terrifying I know. And by “kid” I mean 25. That image stuck with me a long time and one day I started writing a story around who that “witch” was. Ultimately the witch turned into Ink and a whole story about redemption came out. Probably my way of reaching peace and trying to understand my captor. Funny how things start. Oddly, Ink still looks a lot like the witch from Snow White.

Which film makers did you draw influence from; it seems to me to contain elements of David Lynch and Tarsem Singh?

Amen. Yes, huge Lynch fan, but I think you’re one of the only people who’s made that connection so kudos. Also a big Tarsem fan though I don’t know he’s as big an influence on this particular film. I grew up with a Terry Gilliam doll who was my only friend. Okay, not quite, I didn’t have any friends but Terry Gilliam was clearly a major influence. I have a lot of other influences that aren’t as obvious. I would stalk Michael Mann if I had more time and maybe ask him to adopt me, I’m an avid fan of Barry Levenson, Krzysztof Kieslowski, Frank Capra and blah, blah, blah. I’m just a huge fan of anyone making “cinema” and not just movies. I love working in the mindbending and sci-fi/fantasy genres, but I love all genres.

What’s next for you? Do you have any projects in the pipeline?

We do. We have a sci-fi/fantasy in the works that we’ll likely shoot this year, but that will depend how quickly we get it setup. It’s very hush-hush at the moment, but we’re really excited about it. We’ll probably start posting more details on Facebook in a couple months so if your readers want to know more, just search Ink on Facebook and we’ll harass you with the latest.

Thanks for your time.

By all means. Thank you for the great questions and watching the film so thoughtfully. We’re thrilled to have the exposure.