Nearly everyone I interview in this column is a filmmaker with a strong web connection, typically web series creators. So at first glance, you may think an independent film like Ink doesn’t fit. However, even though it premiered at Santa Barbara International Film Festival and had a run at film festivals and independent movie houses across the United States, it really didn’t take off until someone copied it onto a peer-to-peer network, elevating the movie’s popularity to a whole new level. But more on that in a bit.
I’ve been a fan of Ink since I stumbled upon it on Hulu last year. It took some time to track down Winans, but I caught him during some down time while he was working in Eastern Europe.
Winans grew up making movies. His family actually didn’t get a TV until he was 10-years-old, so TV and movies seemed to have magical qualities and he knew right away he wanted to be a filmmaker.
“When I was 13, I got a job walking dogs and cleaning cages at a vet clinic so I could buy my own video camera. From that point on I lived with a camera on my shoulder and slowly became a filmmaker,” said Winans. He spent a year in film school in LA, but then dropped out because he thought it would be a better use of his time and money to make movies. “I made countless shorts and my first ‘real’ feature film was a film called 11:59 which was a mind-bending thriller.”
After that sci-fi thriller, Winans wrote Ink, a modern fantasy with hauntingly well-crafted cinematography and effects mixed with visually mesmerizing fight scenes, which are a mix of martial arts and free-running. Itwas filmed in Denver.
“Ink is a story about people who come out at night and give us dreams and nightmares while we sleep. The film centers around one man and his daughter as forces of good and evil fight over their fate.”
The film has a unique look, but you can see some of the filmmakers that influence Winans, such as Alex Proyas (Dark City and The Crow) and Terry Gilliam (12 Monkeys and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen).
Perhaps fittingly, the story of Ink began with dreams.
“When I was about four years old I was in love with Snow White. She was my dream girl. But consequently, as a four year old, the witch in Snow White scared me to death. At night I would have lucid dreams that the witch (in old woman form) would sneak in to my room and try to kidnap me,” said Winans. “That image stuck in my head for years and ended up being a starting point for the script of Ink. You’ll notice that the character of Ink looks a lot like the witch from Snow White. It quickly became a tale about dreamgivers, The Storytellers and nightmare people, The Incubi.”
The Incubi, which are the main villains in the movie have a very unique, creepy look to them.
“The Incubi came out of the idea of sterilization. I wanted them to have an approach to the world that revolved around being clean and keeping the infectious humanity off. The masks came out of that sentiment. I always referred to their masks as their ultimate sneeze guard from the rest of the world. We wanted them to have distorted glass that they saw the rest of the world through. Turns out the thematic idea ended up looking cool,” explained Winans. “Kiowa, my wife and producer, and I always laugh about our first day shooting the Incubi. I had previously done a lot of effects testing on the incubi so I had a good idea what they would end up looking like, but our first day shooting them was terrifying. We were in the hospital and we were shooting that shot where they all come around the corner and take their masks off and reveal their glowing eyes. Well, obviously none of those effects were there yet, and we all sat behind the camera laughing because it looked so ridiculous. I just about had a nervous breakdown that night thinking I had made a horrible mistake. Fortunately Kiowa and Chris Kelly who plays John, convinced me it was going to be okay. And now that very image is what we use on everything promotional.”
I couldn’t help but tell Winans about running across someone dressed as an Incubi at DragonCon (picture on right).
“That blows my mind. Our fans honestly warm my heart. Hearing things like that make the three years of filmmaking pain worth while,” said Winans.
But where is that Internet connection I mentioned? Well, soon after Ink was released on DVD it made its way onto a torrent peer-to-peer site, where it found a whole new audience.
“We had been taking Ink to one theater at a time in the States. We were building an audience, but we had absolutely no money to promote and advertise. We had gotten distribution offers, but we weren’t happy with any of them and we were determined not to get screwed like we did on our first film,” explained Winans. “We did a self-release of Ink on DVD and within a day or two of the DVD coming out, someone had bit-torrented it. Before we knew it, Ink exploded on Pirate Bay. Our immediate reaction was shock then joy. I think we realized that Ink was getting incredible exposure that we couldn’t have possibly paid for. Consequently, our DVD sales increased as a result and a lot of very cool people have given us donations to help support the film.”
A lot of creators struggle with the views on torrenting. Some think it helps and some think it steals potential profits, which for can be a scary thought for independent filmmakers who struggle financially to make their projects. But, overall, Winans felt that torrenting turned out to be positive for Ink.
“For us, bit torrenting has been a great thing. A lot of people think that we put the torrent out ourselves, but honestly, we didn’t know the first thing about torrenting until it happened. I wish we were that smart,” said Winans. “I think piracy can certainly be a help to filmmakers if they’re concerned about their film falling into obscurity. Who it probably hurts are bigger budget films who need to make a lot more money to cover their costs.”
I asked Winans if he had any advice he would like to share to filmmakers reading. He offered some solid advice.
“The biggest lesson I’ve learned about filmmaking in the past 20 years is that nothing matters if you don’t have a good story and good script,” advised Winans. “You can have the coolest cinematography, coolest effects, and so on, but if your script sucks it’s all for nothing. I always try to tell others and to remind myself to be absolutely sure the script is worth making.”
Check out the trailer for Ink. If anyone wants to follow Ink on Facebook, just search “Ink” or visit them at www.DoubleEdgeFilms.com. Winans told me that Double Edge Films is currently working on a new film that’s very hush-hush, but he’ll keep us updated on its progress.
Attack Of The Trailers!
The Haunting Of Sunshine Girl – Trailer
A young woman, with a camera investigating a supernatural mystery… what could go wrong?
Reality On Demand – New Trailer
I’ve been falling behind on my column installments because I’ve been hard at work in post-production on the scifi web series I directed/produced/co-wrote. Check out the new trailer. Who knows, maybe we’ll get nominated for an award next year…
Elsewhere On The Web
… speaking of award nominations, I recently became a member of The International Academy of Web Television, so needless to say I’m excited to vote for the nominees of IAWTV Awards. I’ve actually discovered many new shows after seeing all of the submissions. There are so many great web series this year. The quality and originality of web series just gets better every year.
Speaking of new web series… Who won Celebrate The Web 5? This is the web series pilot festival where teams have 7 days to create a web series pilot. There were many fun pilots and hopefully many of them will grow into an ongoing series.
The results are. (drum-roll please)
- Judges’ Choice: The Dark Horse
- Audience Choice: The Epic Hunt
- Best Use of Numerical Element: Entwined and Tiny Prophecies (tie)
- Best Use of Quote: Turning a Prophet
- Best Use of Graphic Element: The Epic Hunt and Just Fresh High School (tie)
Meanwhile, in the Kickstarter corner of the IndieNet, Zombie Orpheus Entertainment is doing a fantastic job raising money for a season two of JourneyQuest. They have raised over $101,000 at the time I write this and have just a few more days to raise even more. Please consider donating money to this very funny fantasy comedy series.
What I’m Watching… Are You?
I’ve been scouring the web in search of new web series episodes to watch and share with you. Enjoy!
Aidan 5 – Episode 13 “Underground”
One of my favorite web series, the sci-noir series Aidan 5, just finished season one. But I fell a little behind on posting the episodes, so rather than skipping to the end I’ll pick up where I last left off. So, here are episodes 13 and 14. Enjoy!
“Armed with new information, Aidan & Riley must escape the illegal cloning underworld.”
Aidan 5 – Episode 14 “No Way Out”
“Aidan and Riley are held captive by the sinister Edward Hughes.”
BlackBoxTV: Urban Legends!!!
This time on BlackBoxTV it is an urban legends collaboration with three different directors.
- Bloody Mary
- La Llorona
- Slender Man
Blood and Bones China Chapter 12 – “Of Gods and Monsters”
Blood and Bones China is a Victorian vampire web series that quickly became one of my favorites. It’s filmed and set in Stoke-on-Trent. Sadly, all good things must come to an end. Here is the finale episode.
Dragon Age: Redemption – “Tallis”
Felicia Day (The Guild) puts on elf ears to play an Elf assassin, named Tallis, in this upcoming fantasy web series that ties into ties into EA/Bioware’s Dragon Age 2. Another name scifi fans may recognize is her co-star on the series, Doug Jones (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth).
“The series tells the story of Tallis, an Elvish assassin, who gets a last chance at redemption when she’s sent to capture a rogue Qunari mage intent on wreaking havoc in the world.”
Divine: The Series – Episode 1
A young priest, played by Misha Collins (Supernatural), comes face to face with the living miracle known as Divine.
Raptured – Episode 1
October, 21st 2011. The Rapture happens, as predicted earlier this year, but it’s not the fire and brimstone we’ve come to fear – it’s merely a routine earth upgrade which happens every century or so. Raptured follows a lovelorn 30-something, Sarah Bailey, who is tricked into being in charge of the Rapture. Instead of the seamless upgrade that’s happened in the past, half the people have been left behind. It’s now Sarah’s job to make sure they make it over.
The Vetala – Episode 1 “The Syndicate”
A supernatural thriller about a hostile, yet conflicted spirit from the pages of Sanskrit mythology, and the succession of people it travels through.
Season One follows Lily Callahan and Alex Reed, two college reporters who have become targets of The Syndicate, an organized crime group responsible for the trafficking of illegal guns. Lily and Alex’s obsession with exposing the city’s gun trade leads to dire circumstances, giving rise to The Vetala.
That’s A Wrap
Got a web series, web comic, web… whatever? Then I want to know about it. Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
That’s a wrap for now. Join me next time for more news and interviews coming to a Wednesday near you. Take care my day-dreaming friends. Until next time… marX out.
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Related Posts You Might Enjoy:
- The IndieNet and Beyond – Top Ten Web Series of 2010
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- IndieNet and Beyond Tunes Into ‘BlackBoxTV’
- IndieNet and Beyond Turns Into A ‘Vampire Zombie Werewolf’
- IndieNet and Beyond Goes On A ‘JourneyQuest’ With ZOE
Marx H. Pyle is a writer, martial artist and American independent filmmaker. A graduate of Vancouver Film School, he has worked on a number of projects including the short film he wrote and directed, Silence of the Belle. He is currently in post-production of his scifi web series Reality On Demand.
Julie Seaton Pyle was born and raised in Indiana, where she attended the University of Southern Indiana. She majored in Print Journalism/Computer Publishing, while also dabbling in creative writing, literature and languages. This is also where she met Marx, the man with whom she would take the plunge into marriage and, years later, into another passion: filmmaking. She is co-producer, co-writer, and lead actress in the scifi web series Reality On Demand.