Interview by John Wisniewski
AMFM Magazine: How did you get involved with filmmaking, Dan?
Dan Jinks: I was always fascinated with show business, from the time I was very young. Theater, television and movies always intrigued me. I worked in the theater briefly after college, and then I went to work for a film producer in New York. After a couple of years, he moved the company (and me) to Los Angeles. Soon after I went to work for another producer. I produced my first movie with him, NOTHING TO LOSE. I then decided to start my own company, working with a producing partner, Bruce Cohen.
AMFM Magazine: Any favorite films?
Dan Jinks: I love so many movies. ALL ABOUT EVE might be my top choice. But other favorites range from THE WIZARD OF OZ to THE GODFATHER to SHINDLER’S LIST. I’d also add CABARET, SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, WHAT’S UP DOC, and CITIZEN KANE to the list.
AMFM Magazine: You produced AMERICAN BEAUTY. Did you expect the film to win the Academy Award?
Dan Jinks: I was pretty stunned when AMERICAN BEAUTY was even in the conversation to win an Oscar. When we were making the movie, we were just desperately hoping that the film would connect with audiences. It’s a tough movie to describe. The Dreamworks marketing team did a sensational job with letting the audience know that they would love the movie. And then word of mouth was pretty great, and we were blessed with some terrific reviews. But I never expected to win an Academy Award.
AMFM Magazine: How do you know when you have a good screenplay, one that you really want to produce?
Dan Jinks: I read a tremendous number of screenplays. It’s tough to find ones that really movie me, with characters that I can get invested in. It’s the kind of thing that I know when I read. But I can often tell from a log line if it’s the kind of script that I’m interested in reading.
AMFM Magazine: Could you tell us about producing NOTHING TO LOSE? What was that experience like?
Dan Jinks: NOTHING TO LOSE was my first movie, and I produced it with my boss at the time, Martin Bregman. He was an experienced producer with a lot of films under his belt. I had worked on a few movies, but was brand new to producing, so I had a lot to learn. Much of my job was trying to make sure that the vision of the writer/director, Steve Oedekirk, stayed intact. Steve wasn’t initially the director, and there were a lot of voices in the room wanting to change his script. I think his script only got better in the development process. But it was pretty damn funny from the first draft.
AMFM Magazine: Did MILK prove to be a controversial film to produce?
Dan Jinks: MILK was not especially controversial to get made. It was not easy to get financed, and it took some time to get the screenplay in shape, but I’m really proud of the work that everyone did on the film.
AMFM Magazine: Any upcoming plans and projects that you could tell us about?
Dan Jinks: I don’t know what my next movie will be. I have a few movies in development, as well as a few TV series. But Hollywood writers are on strike, so there isn’t much that can move forward until that is resolved.
About Dan Jinks:
Producer Dan Jinks is best known for his work on such critically acclaimed films as “American Beauty,” “Big Fish,” and “Milk.” He got his start during the late 1990s, earning production credits on films like “Nothing to Lose” and “The Bone Collector,” before working on the surprise hit “American Beauty.” Released in 1999, the film would go on to earn an Academy Award win the following year, for Best Picture. Four years later, Jinks worked on another hit movie, “Big Fish,” which would bring him a BAFTA Award nomination. And it was shortly thereafter that another film that 2008’s “Milk” (a biopic on the life of gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk, played by Sean Penn), would gain the attention of the Academy Awards, resulting in an award nomination for Best Motion Picture of the Year. In addition to producing films, Jinks is co-head of Jinks/Cohen Productions (which he runs with his collaborator, Bruce Cohen), and also serves as executive producer on such television shows as “Traveler,” “Side Order of Life,” and “Pushing Daisies.”