Horror has always been fertile soil for commenting on the problematic issues of contemporary culture, and Katie Bonham takes her turn with Selfie Stick. A colourful, vibrant and wonderfully disturbed critique on what constitutes ideal beauty in the modern moment. Bonham tells her subversion with an old wives’ tale, combining the past and the present to give her comment a wonderfully odd, yet pertinent, timelessness. Twelve Cabins spoke with Bonham about her desire to tackle this obsession, how she created the vividly coloured set in her own living room, and the process behind developing her finale’s bizarre practical effects.
What made you want to make a film about selfie culture?
I really wanted to explore the selfie culture and what constitutes ‘ideal beauty’, and comment on how toxic this can be for social media users who aim to fulfil this ideal. I thought it would be an interesting take to explore modern ideals verses the traditional old wives’ tale and showcase what would happen if these two elements collided. The saying that “If the wind changes your face will stick like that” was something I heard as a child, and with today’s obsession with social media and the selfie, it remains a relevant warning to those trying to create the ‘perfect pout’.
I really enjoyed the simplicity of that concept and your execution. How much of a challenge was putting the film together?
Producer Kieran Nolan Jones and I had a pretty clear idea from the beginning that we wanted to create a vibrant, surreal tale with a clear moral. The biggest challenge was sourcing an accessible, authentic and workable set for Amber’s bedroom on such a limited budget. We needed enough space to move the camera around the room and have complete creative control when it came to the aesthetic and colour pallet. Myself and Set Designer Cat Stepien wanted to create the most colourful, bright and modern looking teenage bedroom for the lead character, and we didn’t want to restrict ourselves. So, I decided to clear my living room and transform it into the set and create a sixteen-year-olds bedroom.
Given the playful energy throughout Selfie Stick, I’m curious to know whether you improvised at all with Rhianna?
Selfie Stick was scripted, but we did improvise the ‘frozen pout/fish lips’ look. We had originally decided to opt for practical effects for this, but unfortunately on the day it didn’t translate well enough on camera, and so I decided that we should improvise it instead. Myself and Rhianna worked out on set how she should recreate the pout using facial expressions, and something that felt comfortable for her to recreate throughout the day.
Who did you work with on the practical effects? Did you always know you wanted to create the bunny effect? It’s so disturbing!
Paul While created the practical effects for the bunnies. From the first draft of the script, I knew it had to be bunnies that the characters become in the final scene. Bunny ears are so iconic for social media selfie filters and instantly translate visually across the world. The final shot of them at the end is my favourite shot from the film.
Can we expect any more horror projects from you in the future?
You can! I am currently writing a fantasy horror feature film, and I have a few theatre projects coming this year which are within the realms of horror.