IKEA Heights from DaveAOK on Vimeo.
Two years ago when writer/director Dave Seger was walking through the Ikea store in Burbank, California it struck him how much the faux bedrooms, kitchens and dens looked like "pre-lit sets." He thought it would be a great place to shoot and direct. Being a relatively unknown talent, he didn't think it was likely that Ikea officials would give him permission. Earlier this year, when Canon came out with a still camera that also had HD video, Seger realized he could shoot scenes while looking like a tourist with a penchant for big furniture stores.
Ikea Heights is part soap opera, part noir murder mystery and all camp. The first episode opens with a shot of James and Candice Melville (played by Randall Park and Whitney Avalon) waking up (fully clothed of course) in their "bedroom," complete with price tags. As James says goodbye to his wife and heads to work we know by the look on his face and the way she avoids his kiss that that something is rotten in, well... Sweden.
The "sets" of Ikea do work perfectly and the looks on the faces of the shoppers are priceless as they try and hide their curiosity behind a mask of nonchalance. After all, this is Burbank, and the folks here are used to a movie shoot or two. It's fun to watch how Seger takes comic advantage of the fact that this is not an actual set with working props. In one scene, when harried wife Vivianne Jespens (Jess Lane) tries to turn on the faucet, no water comes out. Her husband Thomas (Tom Kauffman) is forced to admit that he lost his job and hasn't been paying the bills.
The Internet is clearly becoming a great place for unknown creative types to cut their teeth, and this is one of the more silly yet inventive short drama series I've seen online. Seger, at 26, is part of a group of aspiring television and film artists called Channel 101 who get together monthly and screen short comic series they've made. Everyone votes on the best shows and the winners get the privilege of making yet another episode. So far, Seger has made four five-minute episodes of Ikea Heights. He plans to make another episode this month.
It's not clear what Ikea is going to do about this. They didn't return my call in time for this post, so I don't know how much they actually know about Seger's furtive plans. But, then again, this is Ikea Heights; you never know what might happen next.