Thursday, November 19, 2009

Jamin Winans on "Ink"

What was your filmmaking background before you made Ink?

JAMIN: I grew up with a video camera in my hand and learned filmmaking mostly by doing it. I joke that Ink is actually my 4th feature film because I made two feature length films by shooting on VHS and cutting on two VCRs when I was a kid. I went to film school for a year, but dropped out realizing my time was best spent just doing it. I made my "first" feature, 11:59, in 2003-2004.

Where did the idea come from?

JAMIN: When I was a kid I was in love with Snow White. Consequently I was terrified of the witch in old woman form. I used to believe she would sneak into my room and try to steal me out of bed to take me to some place terrible. That image stuck with me a long time. It's not just coincidence that Ink looks a lot like the witch from Snow White. And that's where the movie started from. I had the scene of a monster stealing a kid out of bed and angels trying to stop him. The story just kept building from there.

What was your process for writing the script?

JAMIN: I outline heavily. My scripts are usually complicated and involved so I'll often spend months, if not years, outlining. The actual script writing is quick. I tend to not write a single page until I'm absolutely certain I have everything worked out. In the case of Ink I finished the script and then made several revisions over the course of pre-production. There were probably at least a half-dozen revisions. During that time I got feedback from trusted people whose opinions and taste I respect.

How did you finance the film and what did you learn in that process?

JAMIN: We've been building a fan base over the past 10 years or so. During that time we've found some supporters who have been willing to invest in projects. With Ink, Kiowa (my wife and producer) and I really wanted to be investors ourselves. So we mortgaged our house to be the first investors. We then we started to talk to our friends and supporters and gave them a fairly elaborate and visual business plan. The fact that we were investing ourselves certainly helped others feel more comfortable. We raised the financing we needed over about 8 months.

The thing I've learned about financing both our films is that it just takes time. It takes time and leg work to get to the right people and ultimately convince them that this is a project worth supporting.

What sort of camera did you use? What was good about it? What was not so good?

JAMIN: We shot entirely on the Sony V1U. It was the smallest HD camera available at the time (weighing about 3 lbs). Originally we were going to shoot with the Sony CineAlta, but realized it was just too big for the situations we were shooting in. We needed a camera that was light and could fit in small spaces. We were shooting an enormous amount of setups a day and having that small camera was a saving grace.

On the other hand, the issue with the V1U is that the latitude is pretty weak. When shooting night exteriors, we needed to pump out a lot of light to register on that camera. It made night scenes really rough. The Sony EX came out immediately after we wrapped. It's not much bigger than the V1U, but has a much better latitude. If we shot Ink today we would use that camera.

You wore a lot of hats on the film -- writer, director, editor, composer, producer. What's the benefit of doing that? The downside?

JAMIN: Yes, and Kiowa was the producer, production designer, costume designer, and sound designer. The benefit is absolute creative control. I'm able to make the decisions I want without encumbrance. The other advantage is that there's less time wasted on communicating between "departments." So it can be really efficient. The downside is that there are only so many hours in the day. I can only work so fast when I'm doing everything. It can also be nice to have other collaborators throwing in their two cents. You don't get that when you're working on your own.

And, finally, what did you learn from making the film that you can take to other projects?

JAMIN: More than anything I've learned how powerful fans can be. We've had a fan base that's carried us and Ink for the past several months as we've taken it out theater by theater. Because of the time we're living in, we're able to connect with a lot of our fans personally through our social networks. They've become friends, advocates, and have really kept our spirits high as we fight to get Ink released. More now than ever, I suspect our fans will be a big part of the ongoing filmmaking process.

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