Rarely has the apocalypse ever been so funny. In writer and director Eli Shapiro’s Ike Interviews God, we are treated to a delicious scenario—a bland “everyman” is given a chance to interview a vengeful god. What results is a darkly hilarious take on human nature and inevitability that will have you cringing as much as it will make you smile.
The premise may be high-concept but the presentation is anything but. This is a low-budget short through and through (one location, just a few actors). It’s a great example of how clever writing can often supersede large scale productions. For such a serious topic, the punchlines are frequent and effective (a certain recurring gag about “Dolphin Oil” is a definite highlight). In general, Ike is a fantastic representation of “indie” comedy done well in the short form. It’s smartly written and features some excellent lead performances. Beyond that, the film captures a wonderfully absurd tone—almost like an Onion article turned into a cinematic narrative.
If you could have a private conversation with God, what would you ask Her?
Director Eli Shapiro, communicating via e-mail, expands upon his goals with the project: “It started with a simple premise: If you could have a private conversation with God, what would you ask Her? The terrifying idea in the film is what if God existed, but didn’t care about us? In terms of style, I was inspired by dark cosmic comedies like ‘Hitchhikers Guide,’ ‘Being John Malkovich,’ and early Woody Allen films like ‘Sleeper.'”
Shot on a shoestring budget of $1500 while Shapiro was a student at NYU Tisch, Ike is the epitome of a scrappy film school production. The various props were constructed out of old 90’s computer parts sourced from Craigslist. For God’s “talking” effect, Shapiro commissioned a fellow film school student to rewire a broken internet router so that its lights would bounce to a waveform when connected to an iPod. Really, though, the low-budget trappings forced Shapiro to concentrate on getting the script and performance just right. Ryan Wesley Gilreath, who plays Ike, does a fantastic job hitting a slew of emotional beats. It’s undoubtedly impressive, especially when you consider that for the majority of the short he’s essentially in a room talking to himself.
As for the age-old question: what’s next for Mr. Shapiro? Well, his next short is already heading out to festivals. He’s also currently working on a feature comedy. Be sure to keep up to date with all his work at his website, www.eli-shapiro.com, and on twitter.