I just discovered this gem of a show that helped market a store that needs no marketing (so much so that they want nothing to do with it). I’m talking about Ikea Heights.
This little masterpiece is what every young filmmaker needs to watch at the start of their career. The YouTube web-series is the brainchild of Paul Bartunek and David Seger. The premise of the show while enthralling and funny is the least of the reasons I sat through it. Surely Randall Park helped the cause, but I stuck around for the filming techniques. THEY WENT FULL RAMBO!
The production illegally filmed inside Ikea stores without their knowledge. Now, this was eight years ago and the security I hope has beefed up since then. But thank heavens it was laxed for this low budgeted jewel.
The show is a mix up of essential filmmaking techniques you will have learnt at film school, but all credit to the cast and crew who pulled through until the end. As a result, we have seven episodes of pure genius. The filmmakers drew inspiration from Mike McCafferty‘s show called Store Trek. It’s a parody on you guessed it, Star Trek, shot in this guerrilla style at a Fry’s Electronics Store. Guerrilla Filmmaking is self-explanatory like the word itself. With whatever limited production means available at hand, a driven crew ambushes a public location without shooting permits. Ed Wood was a pioneer of this branch. I personally think of it to share similar rules to Dogme 95 given that one cannot particularly control lighting and well, cameras do tend to be hand held.
Coming back to Ikea Heights, the show is filled with clichés: crime, suspense, adultery, family reunions, junkie cops, prostitution, you name it. It also has cheesy 90s style opening credits which pay homage to The Wonder Years and updates us when important characters have died.
We get an Ikea Heights origins story where they satirize the Pilgrims and the umm Swedish Puritans. If I can call it that. The Princess Bride also gets a nod with the grandfatherly narrative. How can we forget the was-it-all-a-day-dream storyline? And a Zombie musical!
From an impromptu Reddit AMA, we get to learn about the filming hurdles that the production faced and how the Ikea staff actually loved the show. If this five-odd minutes serial drama does intrigue you and you’d like to learn more about it, we’re blessed with a very professionally shot mini-documentary. Much like the Swedish sentiment of lagom, the Ikea Heights is just right for a Saturday viewing with friends.
Now, if you remember a random guy hitting on you at Ikea, it just might have been a pre-famous Randall Park.