Jamin Winans interview (director of indie sci-fantasy INK)
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Currently being compared to great unique films like Donnie Darko and Inception, Ink is a gloriously immersive fantasy thriller about a fantasy world and a businessman’s love for his daughter. Keen to find out more, we spoke to director Jamin Winans. We think Winans could join the ranks of Danny Boyle, Neil Marshall and Gareth Edwards as a UK director who causes such a stir with their first low budget feature that the world watches their first major studio effort with baited breath.
How did you get the inspiration for INK? Personal experience? Some kind of dreamy vision?
It was a bit like that. When I was a little kid I would have lucid nightmares that a monster, in particular the witch from Snow White in old woman form, was trying to kidnap me while I slept. Yes…I was a big Snow White fan. It was such a vivid nightmare, it stuck with me the rest of my life. So the story of Ink really emerged out of that image. I started asking questions about who the monster really is and the plot just kept developing from there.
It seems like you had no budget and a lot of creative ambition. How did you go about creating the atmosphere of INK? Did you have any specific aims creatively?
Yes, indeed… our budget should have only been enough for snacks. A lot of our artistic choices came out of necessity. The script jumps around between a lot of different worlds, times and dimensions. I try and avoid a lot of dialogue-based exposition so we were always up against the challenge of telling the audience what world they were in without using words. The best way to do this was to create very distinct visual looks for each environment. Each world would ideally have a specific look so that when we cut to that world we knew exactly where we were.
The budget did actually force us to be a lot more creative. We didn’t have the luxury to throw money at problems, so we always had to come up with creative solutions. In the end I think the film is better because of it.
Do you love sci-fi and fantasy? Or did you want to break with the genre? It seems like one could argue it either way…
I absolutely love the sci-fi/fantasy genre, though I never really looked at my own films as genres until more recently. I started filmmaking really young and by the time I was in my late teens I was gravitating more and more toward mind-bending material. As time has gone on we’ve put the label “sci-fi/fantasy” on it, but in the end I’m just attracted to good stories with unique premises. The genre question comes up after the fact.
In what sense is our main character an incubus? Would you say they’re an incubus in the accepted mythological sense?
I actually didn’t follow the mythology of what an incubus is. I was somewhat unaware of the term until we needed to give the characters a different name other than “nightmare people”. Someone came up with incubus and when we looked it up we were shocked how perfectly fitting it was. I’d say the biggest difference is that our incubi’s primary focus wasn’t to have sex with their victims, but rather corrupt their minds through their dreams.
What were the highest highs and lowest lows in the creation of the film?
The lowest lows were just getting through the production. It was an 83 day shoot with a very small crew and we were all dying in the process. To my cast and crew’s credit, they all got through it, but it was a marathon and a brutal one at that.
The highest highs have been the fans. Ink is such a small film and for so many fans to pour so much love into it has been really moving for us. We can’t thank them enough for raising the film to a different level.
Ink indirectly approaches the themes of dreams and nightmares. If it’s not too personal a question, it might be fun to find out what your particular fancies and/or nightmares were as a child, since we see things so much bigger, and through a glass darkly, at that age…
I was always a pretty dark kid and pretty apprehensive of the world. From what I remember my best dreams usually weren’t complicated, or even took place in a physical location, but rather just a state of mind of peace. It was just an absence of pain and a true feeling of being home.
My nightmares usually revolved around something terrible happening to my family. Something I suspect most can relate to.
What’s next on your creative horizon? Anything in the pipeline?
We’re working on a new film now and plan to be shooting this year. It’s very hush-hush, but it will definitely be given the sci-fi/fantasy label. We will indeed talk again when it comes out.
They say that creative folk always have one juicy theme they explore repeatedly in their work. Is that the case for you, would you say?
That’s a good question and I’m not sure of the answer. I suspect I gravitate towards the idea that everything happens for a reason. We’ll see how that continues to manifest in future films.
Is there anything we should have asked you but were far too selfish to do so?
Ha! That’s very thoughtful. These are really thought provoking questions. I’m just thrilled to have the opportunity to talk. If your readers want to know more about Ink or our upcoming film, just search Ink on Facebook and you’ll find us.