Friday, April 30, 2010

The Story of Ink

If you are into visionary fantasy films, you owe it to yourself to check out indie cult favorite Ink.

From their website:
An 8-year-old becomes a pawn in a metaphysical war being fought between the forces of light and darkness in this visually outrageous indie thriller.

Kidnapped by a large, strange creature known as Ink, the girl is taken through a labyrinthine world of dream states while those who love her fight to bring her back into the real world and bring salvation to her desperate father.

Ink is one of the most ambitious indie films I have seen.  With a budget of around $250,000 filmmakers Jamin and Kiowa Winans have squeezed every penny of that mini-budget and put it up on the screen.

  watch trailer 1  |  watch trailer 2 visit website  

It completely sidesteps the usual hallmarks of low-budget filmmaking by including a large cast, many locations, superb fight scenes and amazing art direction.

You're just not supposed to bite off that much with so little budget and no studio backing - but thank goodness they did.

I especially loved the look of the Incubus (or is that Incubi??) with their ever-sneering projected faces:
(do I sense a little Dave McKean perhaps?)

Amazing as it is, the film is not perfect - the first act is somewhat confusing, the dialogue is a bit stilted at times and the editing unnecessarily frenetic in places.  Sounds like a typical Hollywood film. The micro-budget does inevitably show through in some scenes, but that is only because Jamin stubbornly refuses to be held back by commonsense notions of low-budget filmmaking.  Big kudos for pushing the envelope of what can be done!

As is so often the case these days, Ink is also a story about the trevails of independent filmmaking.  I particularly enjoyed reading their blog as they journey through the ever-changing sands of today's indie film world, while traditional distribution models crumble around them.  Ink had a film festival premiere, garnered great reviews (including Aint it Cool News, LA Times and Fangoria), amazing word of mouth, was theatrically released (by Jamin and Kiowa themselves) in Denver, New York and LA, their trailer was viewed hundreds of thousands of times, the movie itself ripped and dowloaded on bit torrent more than 500,000 times, was ranked as high as #16 on imdb, and had army of dedicated and passionate fans who clamored to see the film.

It also never was picked up by a distributor.

Refusing to sign with a distributor who at best might offer a small advance and retain all rights to their baby, and who at worst might just shelve the film, never to pay back a dime, Jamin and Kiowa made the inevitable decision to distribute the movie themselves.  In today's market that meant a combination of continuing to try to find independent theater owners who would screen it for them as well as the usual DVD and digital outlets - Netflix, iTunes, Blockbuster, and Amazon.

(For a more in-depth examination of the nuts-and-bolts aspects of indie filmmaking and distribution, take a listen to their Film Courage radio interview.)

Jamin and Kiowa make the case that the festival circuit of today is no longer a place to sell a film but an opportunity to launch a media blitz that may hopefully ultimately lead to paying back one's investors through self-distribution and a ton of hard work.  If these guys can't make it work, with their incredible film, dedicated fans and tireless work ethic, then the whole model of indie filmmaking is surely broken.

Please check out their work and if you enjoy it, support them by buying directly from their store where they will receive most of the profits.  Indie filmmakers like them can only survive by the continued support of people who actually buy their art and allow the artists the financial freedom to actually do their work for you, the viewer (more on this in a future post.)


  1. Your generous offering of "Ink" creates an association between the marvels of "Mirror Mask" and the blue-grey stormscapes of "Pan's Labyrinth." While "Mask" was phenomenally enchanting, "Pan's" took the distributors' dime and went through the awards parades. Where could "Ink" fit within this storyline? More blood at the altar of the Indie Draft?

  2. "I am going to look into this film," Says Dudel as he nods his head firmly. "It looks interesting, to say the least."

  3. You might be qualified for a complimentary $1,000 Amazon Gift Card.