If you’ve shopped at IKEA one thing is instantly apparent: the store is huge. Big enough to get lost in between levels, with directional signage being the only thing that rescues you from being endlessly turned around. However, if you really want to realize how big IKEA actually is, consider this: the store is so huge that over the course of a year a group of enterprising Hollywood creatives were able to film seven episodes of a soap opera in the store and no one noticed. That’s big.
About The Soap Opera
The 2009 production was created by filmmakers Dave Seger and Paul Bartunek in a Burbank, California location of the Swedish warehouse chain. Titled IKEA Heights, it was a spoof soap opera that was filmed with a full cast and crew. Like any good soap opera, the story itself was full of the kind of melodrama that actors relish including an amnesia plotline, an out of control romance, and a murder or two.
With this kind of scope, the production couldn’t have been kept low key yet the filmmakers never notified the store about what they were doing. And the store never seemed to notice. Being located in California, maybe it wasn’t unexpected to see customers with cameras out and about. In that part of the United States, filmmaking is a part of life and embedded in the culture.
As a company, IKEA didn’t officially talk about the production until after it aired as part of a nonprofit film festival that reached both Los Angeles and New York City. Upon airing, the film received some degree of public recognition. It ran for 8 months and received an IMBD rating of 7.9 stars. The national publication Entertainment Weekly even reviewed it in a short but positive review titled “This week in guerrilla filmmaking“. That’s pretty nice recognition for such an unconventional, low-budget production.
Overall, the store took the filming pretty well — once they acknowledged that it happened. While they appreciated the movie’s sense of humor, which is in line with the kind of humor they try to have in their own marketing, they indicated they would have liked it if the filming process had gone through proper channels. They weren’t thrilled with the unauthorized use of IKEA’s space, and likely its brand name, (though that last part wasn’t explicitly said.)
It stands to reason, however, part of the fun of the film appears to be precisely the fact that it was able to proceed unnoticed. If it had gone through proper channels, it probably wouldn’t have turned out the same.
The Filmmakers Have A Strong Track Record Of Production
Despite what you’d expect with such a non-traditional filming approach, IKEA Heights isn’t the filmmaker’s first effort. Far from it. In fact, one of the people on the show’s team of writers, Tom Kauffman, is the writer for the beloved series Rick and Morty. The fuller team of writers and actors had also worked together on previous productions including the Our Robocop Remake and the Our Footloose Remake.
Check Out The Series For Yourself
If you want to see what all the fuss is about for this series, it isn’t that difficult to access. Each episode is so short and entertaining that, like any snack candy, it is pretty easy to binge. And each one tastes just a little better if you can pair it with some of the take-home treats (meatballs, anyone?) from the store’s “To Go” section.
When you’re ready, check out the first episode here, on YouTube:
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