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Exclusive Interview: “Ink”

December 28th, 2009 by Jocelyn Matsuo Asst Video Editor

Ink, an independent film written, directed and produced by husband-and-wife team Jamin and Kiowa Winans, has taken the online world by storm, thanks to an open-minded approach to sharing the film. This week, I got to interview the creators of this unique and stunning film. — Jocelyn Matsuo, Content Editor

Jocelyn: Will you tell me a little bit about your writing and development process?
Generally, I start with a visual idea. Usually it’s an image or a scene, then I just try to build off of that image. And just start asking questions, so in the case of Ink, it all started with an image of a kid being snatched out of her bed by a monster. Basically sort of a kid-fear that a monster is going to come and grab you in your bedroom while you’re asleep. Why is she being kidnapped? Who’s the monster? Who’s the little girl? Where do they go? Constantly asking questions and building the story out from that point. Something will hit me as “that will be a great scene” or a movie idea.

Jocelyn: Why work out of Denver as opposed to Hollywood?
I just decided that I wanted to make my own films and not be under the control of the studio. There’s so much production there that it’s not very significant, and it costs money to get permits. Whereas you know, here in Denver, film shoots rarely happen here so it’s easy to get support. Permits are free, so it’s just a really easy place to shoot. That said, Colorado doesn’t have a lot of tax incentives, so as our budgets get bigger, we are probably going to be forced to shoot in tax-incentive states.

Kiowa: That’s literally the only downside to shooting in Colorado. We have a lot of friends and resources here. We were able to cash in 30 years’ worth of favors making Ink.

Jocelyn: On your website, you talk about torrents as part of your press-strategy, will you talk to me a little bit about your relationship with piracy in terms of this movie?

Kiowa: Sure, so we started selling our signed discs off of our website and shipped them out Oct. 30th. Somebody ordered, got it shipped to them and uploaded a bit torrent by Nov. 5th. We managed to generate some really good press, a lot of good buzz online. Our trailers had quite a few hits, but we didn’t have a clue either how quickly or how huge it would go. We found out on Nov. 6th or 7th that it was up on all the bit torrent sites. For that first week that it was up, it was the # 1 movie on Pirate Bay, over all the other Hollywood releases.

Jamin: It was sorta bittersweet, it was like oh that’s great…

Kiowa: We don’t condone stealing things. However, as a small independent film, we haven’t poured a ton of money into our advertising, nor can we. It gave us an enormous boost.

Jamin: On IMDB, Ink was rated No. 12,991. And the very next week it jumped to No. 16. And the week after that it jumped to No. 14. It dramatically helped our exposure, and we never would have predicted that. We are certainly glad, and if we were to do it all over again, we certainly would have released it [on bit torrent networks] ourselves. Because it was so useful, and that’s kind of our philosophy about the film — we just want to get it out there. People ask us “are you sure you want to put it out on sites like Hulu so soon?” because the traditional idea is to release your film in windows. But we want everybody, everywhere to be able to see it. If that kills certain windows, so be it. That’s the old model. Getting up on Hulu where there’s literally millions and millions of people going there every day — that’s the best possible thing we can have for the film.

Kiowa: On iTunes right now, we’re No. 7, the other day we were fourth, right after the huge releases like Star Trek, District 9. The film is getting that type of exposure because people really like it. Distributors passed on it, because it didn’t have any name talent on it, it’s very low budget, and the thing that they most shied away from was that it’s a completely unique story. It’s not a franchise, it’s not a rebooted television program from the ’80s.

Most independent filmmakers will go and play festivals for a year, year and a half, and then try to get distribution, and then their DVD comes out maybe the years after the film. We wanted to reduce that window, so we decided to come right out and open it in Denver. And it was extremely successful for us. Ninety percent of our screenings have been our own, that we promoted on Facebook, Twitter, using a lot of social networking, word of mouth. That’s an important note, especially for other independent filmmakers. You have to do that yourself these days.

Learn more about Ink on the official website.

Last comment: Apr 9th 2015 7 Comments
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  • ina says:

    The best film I’ve seen in a long while – the intrigue of Pi, with the finesse of a fast-paced plot… The mythos of archetypal dream-creators in a battle with cyborg soul-stealing inksters — a world where dreams are eternal, where, in the real world, the actions of dream fighters are instantly reversed — the shattered vase, against entropy, broken then instantly whole — and yet, in the dream realm, that is where the real battle happens, which side gets to take a soul…

    Loved the scene where the blind Pathfinder does his dance of time, to change lives. Beautiful, subtle early sign of redemption in the movie’s villain-protagonist — the part where Ink first drags Emma down the alley, and she hurts her feet, he stops to help her, tears his robe to create shoes for her. Cinematography-wise, the overusage of blurred too-bright imagery, while adding a dream-like feel to the entire film, seems equivalent to shoddy hackneyed abuse of Photoshop filters, in another independent medium.

  • Cynder Gray says:

    The film really captured my imagination in that it was a character driven story that used the visual as an enhancement instead of the other way around. I really look forward to seeing more from this duo.

  • I have been particularly fascinated by the Winans’ use of Music and Time in both their short films and in Ink. I recently published a short piece about it, which I linked here.

  • Aaron says:

    Just wanted to say how great the movie was, also how your probably one of the few people that have actually used the Bit torrent sites to help you rather than hinder your movie proves that the Bit torrent and p2p sites can be helpful for those that use them rather than get used by them.