As Ink nears it’s UK DVD release on April 25th (US DVD and Blu-ray are already available), I’ve had a bit of back and forth with director Jamin Winans about the whys, wherefores and what-the-hecks of his sophisticated, elaborate nightmare fantasy.
Here’s what he told me.
1. On Fear and Confidence
You bet I was frightened. I had made another feature called 11:59 before Ink, but it didn’t come close to the level of complexity that Ink was. My biggest fear was just the idea of making a low budget sci-fi/fantasy. As a rule that’s never a good idea because they almost always turn out like cheesy shlock. So my biggest battles both internally and on the set revolved around trying to make something credible and artistic rather than cheesy low-budget crap.
I didn’t anticipate how hard the actual marathon of a shoot would be. We shot for 83 days and before we started shooting I thought the long schedule would make for a more relaxed process. Not the case. I was ready to die by day 3. If I wasn’t trying to maintain some level of respect from my wife I probably would have cried myself to sleep every night. But listen to me, I’m complaining about making a movie. There are worse problems.
I probably wasn’t so much confident that we would make it till the end, but rather naïve. I just believed every day that the next day was going to be easier.
2. On Style
Our stylistic approach to the film was a very practical one. The script bounces around so many different worlds, dimensions and times that we had to use style to orient the audience. Each world had it’s own color palette and lighting approach so that you knew exactly where you were just by the aesthetic alone. The trick is that there’s a lot of cross over between worlds.
The color palettes and styles were each created based on the mood we were trying to give that particular world. The good dreams and the storyteller forest leaned to warmer and softer tones whereas the nightmares and incubi worlds were given a “death” treatment which was cooler tones (primarily greens) and a lot of contrast. The “real” world was given a little bit more of a even treatment, but still some softness to remind us that there’s a fine line between the “real” and “dreams”.
3. On Structuring The Film
My process is to outline an enormous amount before I write the script. In fact I probably spend 90% of the writing process outlining and going over countless passes. If I didn’t do this I would just get lost in my own script.
In original drafts I had written an introduction for Jacob where he was out on the street at night and created a mini-chain reaction. It sort of introduced his character and ability, later I decided I wanted to keep Jacob’s magic a secret until late in the film so I pulled the scene from the script.
We rearranged a couple of scenes for rhythm, but generally I try to stay away from a lot of exposition so we didn’t go back and shoot or add anything to help clarify things. In fact we cut a few things out of the finished film because I thought there was too much exposition. I would rather run the risk of an audience being confused than spoon fed.
4. On Iconography And Recurring Motifs
[My newer short] Uncle Jack does have some strong similarities and even the same actors. Though I don’t think those will continue to be ongoing themes. A kid’s perspective is something I’ve used a few times and I think largely because it’s a perspective that’s still malleable and open to a much bigger world and imagination.
For the most part Uncle Jack doesn’t have any relation to my childhood that I can recall, though I think we all have at least one crazy uncle out there. Ink on the other hand was really based on a childhood nightmare that I had. I was in love with Snow White as a 4 year old and was consequently terrified of the witch (in old woman form). I would have lucid nightmares that the witch would come into my room and try to kidnap me. That was the genesis image that I built the story of Ink around. So it’s not just coincidence that Ink looks a lot like the witch from Snow White.
5. On Living With A Completed Film
I actually haven’t watched Ink in some time. When you’re editing and finishing the film you see it more times than you can imagine so I suspect I won’t need to watch it again for a while. I suspect that viewing it now would be the same, I would likely only see the flaws that most others don’t see. I would love to watch it the way everyone else does, but that’s the curse of making your own film.
With every film I’ve shifted more and more energy towards the script writing process. When I was a kid I just wanted to grab a camera and shoot cool shots. But as I’ve matured that’s changed. When you spend two years of your life making a movie you realize how critical it is to have the right script to begin with.
6. On Imagination And The Creation Of Imagery
From what I understand we all think in images and not words and I’m no different. My writing process usually starts with images that inspire me and then I just start asking questions about why that image inspires me and how I might translate it to be inspiring to someone else.
With Ink there were a handful of images that I had very early on; the image of Ink in reaching for Emma in her bedroom and Allel crashing through the window to stop him, the image of Jacob conducting a symphony in the city, the image of Allel fighting back the incubi while John is knelt over his daughter’s hospital bed, and the image of Ink defending Emma from the incubi. To a large degree those images in the film are verbatim to what I had originally imagined. The hard part was figuring out how all those images connected together.
I do have many more images to realize and some of them you’ll see in our next film. It’s very hush-hush, but it’s also a sci-fi/fantasy that I’m really excited about. The plan is to shoot later this year. Hopefully we won’t kill ourselves making it this time. I’m going to go ahead and start telling myself now that this one will be easier.
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