Regg Skwarko’s “Steam” immediately brings to mind Psycho’s shower scene. But—spoiler alert—there is a terrific twist. The film is one of the finalists in the 2017 Cinephone Film Fest. Anything else we might say about it would ruin your viewing experience, so instead, let’s talk about the art of homage. In the world of film this means acknowledging the value of an earlier work and creating something inspired by it. Frequently homage is done for humor. For example, consider the opening credit sequence of “Airplane” which calls to mind images from “Jaws.” But a filmmaker can pay homage by updating an earlier work or creating a variation on it, as for example, neo-noir “Red Rock West,” pays homage David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet.” Now let’s see how Australian filmmaker Skwarko does it.
MobileMovieMaking interviewed the filmmaker about his filmmaking background and the production of “Steam.”
MMM: What is your filmmaking background?
Skwarko: I studied filmmaking at Curtin University in Perth Western Australia. Most people there were so interested in directing or producing, no one really wanted to know the technical aspects, so that gave me the opportunity to gain a lot of experience in many different areas like camerawork, editing, visual effects etc.
MMM: Can you name any filmmakers who influenced you?
Skwarko: Robert Rodriguez, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarrittu, Paul Thomas Anderson, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan and anyone else good really, haha!
MMM: How did the “Steam” project begin?
Skwarko: My teammate Kelly Belinda Hammond, wrote “Steam” after going to my bathroom one evening during a brainstorm session. She said my bathroom was rather creepy, and from there we got talking and out came “Steam.”
MMM: Why did you decide to shoot the movie with a smartphone instead of a traditional camera?
Skwarko: I don’t have any “real” cameras. So I had to shoot with what I had, my iPhone 6.
MMM: Was “Steam” your first smartphone movie?
Skwarko: No. Before “Steam” I shot two other shorts outside in public. What I love about using an iPhone outside is the versatility and anonymity it provides. Whenever you have a large camera with a whole bunch of gizmos hanging of it, not only do you need crew to help you operate, you also tend to attract unwanted attention. With an iPhone, not only can you operate it yourself but no one around you cares. If anyone should ask what we are doing, I’ll say, “It’s just something for Instagram” and they’ll probably leave us alone. But fortunately that’s never happened.
MMM: Of course, “Steam” is an indoor production. In that situation–with no passers-by–were there still advantages in using the smartphone?
Skwarko: I’m a big fan of spontaneous shooting, so I downloaded the Filmic Pro app and met up with my two actress friends and just started shooting.
MMM: Did you use any special gear?
MMM: Did you encounter any difficulties in making “Steam”?
Skwarko: The biggest challenge was to get the screen to fog up. I had to cheat it and use the smoke machine to get a smoke plate and then composited it in After Effects. Also unfortunately I had my tripod stolen not too long before the shoot, so for any lock off shots I ended up trying to keep the gimbal as still as possible, by clutching it to my chest as we shot. It kinda worked I think.
MMM: How can readers learn more about your work?
Skwarko: They can subscribe to jicsar on youtube.
“Steam” was chosen as a MobileMovieMaking “Movie of the Week.” If you’ve made your own homage mobile movie, you can tell us about it by writing firstname.lastname@example.org