Film and TV

From Ink to The Frame, Jamin and Kiowa Winans Are Making Their Mark in the Movies

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Someone else took notice of Ink's viral phenomenon: Hollywood.

Jamin and Kiowa were born with independent streaks a mile wide, but even after Ink became a thing, they didn't shut themselves off from the idea of going the traditional route of any hot young filmmakers with an indie hit on their hands: Head to Hollywood. And now Hollywood was apparently happy to have them.

"We ended up getting an agent at one of the big Hollywood agencies, UTA," Jamin says. In fact, that United Talent Agency agent contacted and pursued them after hearing about Ink's remarkable success. "He told us, 'We represent the Coen brothers and all these other filmmakers. We can do the same thing for you.'"

Jamin became a client, but not without caveats: "I told the agent out of the gate that I didn't want to sell my scripts or direct for other people. I just want to do my own thing. Which sounds really arrogant, but it wasn't. I just knew I had this really specific thing that I wanted to do."

A string of meetings between Jamin and representatives of a number of major Hollywood studios ensued. As Kiowa was conducting Ink's run at Los Angeles's historic Egyptian Theater, Jamin was hustled from one glad-handing opportunity to the next.

"They were looking for the director for their next blockbuster franchise," he recalls. "I told them right off the bat that I wasn't interested in doing anything other than my own stuff. We just needed help getting financing for our next film. But right away, they sent me a script and said, 'Hey, what do you think?' I didn't even want to read it. I already told them I didn't want to be a director for hire. They said, 'Oh, just read it, even if you're going to pass on it.' So I read it, and I passed on it, and they couldn't believe it.

"They kept saying things that were kind of funny," he continues. "They kept hinting at certain ideas. This is a real thing they said to me: 'Hey, this producer's working on a new movie. What do you think about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Do you want to do a meeting?' I wouldn't want anyone to think that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was actually offered to me or anything, but I still laugh about it."

Every doubt the Winanses had ever had about Hollywood came true, in Technicolor. "I just got the sense that this is a huge industry making widgets instead of movies," Jamin says. "You're just a cog in a wheel, and that's what these guys were looking for. Immediately after those meetings, we were so frustrated. But we knew we just couldn't go down that path."

"There's a saying in the movie industry," Kiowa adds. "The more money you take, the less freedom you have. We reached this critical point. We could either go the Hollywood route or keep doing what we were doing."

Upon returning to Colorado, the Winanses dropped their agent. And they at last fully embraced the reality that they were Colorado filmmakers, not Colorado-until-they-get-to-Hollywood filmmakers. "We love it here," Kiowa says. "Whenever I'm on an airplane, I just wait for the captain to come on and say that we're in Colorado. Then I'm okay if we crash. As long as I die in Colorado, I'm happy."

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Jason Heller
Contact: Jason Heller