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 students at the time were either interested in directing or producing, not many were interested in the technical side, so fortunately that gave me the opportunity to gain experience in many different areas like camerawork, lighting, editing, visual effects etc.
MMM: Can you name any filmmakers who influenced you?
Skwarko: Robert Rodriguez, Paul Thomas Anderson, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarrittu, name anyone good and add them to the list hah!
MMM: How did the “Steam” project begin?
Skwarko: I had been shooting short films with my teammates Kelly Belinda Hammond and Hope Devaney. One night while we were brainstorming, Kelly felt that going to my bathroom felt rather creepy… still to this day, I don’t know what that meant… I had already taken down all the spy cameras! (joking) But we all got talking and not too long later Kelly came up with “Steam.”
MMM: Why did you decide to shoot the movie with a smartphone instead of a traditional camera?
Skwarko: I didn’t have any other 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 called “The Exchange” and “I Wanna Ride” also written by Kelly and starring Hope. We shot these two out in public. Which is what I love about using an iPhone, the versatility and anonymity it provides.
MMM: You say more about that?
Skwarko: Whenever you have a larger more professional looking camera, not only do you need crew to help operate it, but you also tend to attract unwanted attention. With an iPhone, not only can you operate it yourself but, no one around you cares, they all probably have their heads in their phones anyway. But, if anyone asks what we were doing, I’ll say, “It’s just something for Instagram” and they’ll 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: Just ease of use, no nonsense. Find the shot, shoot, done. Easy.
MMM: Did you use any special gear?
MMM: Did you encounter any difficulties in making “Steam”?
Skwarko: The biggest challenge was to get the shower screen to fog up consistently without wasting hot water. So we tried really “complicated” techniques…. such as breathing on it, throwing a bag of frozen peas into a boiling pot of water to generate steam, and all kinds of silliness that didn’t work.
MMM: So then…?
MMM: How can readers learn more about your work?
Skwarko: They can subscribe to jicsar on youtube.
No Film School has collected other short films inspired by Hitchcock’s shower scene. You can see them here.
“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