Where did you get the idea of the Patriots Oath? It is one of those perfect things that, on the surface, seems harmless, but when you consider the implication, you realize how sinister it is. Having it exist divides the country in ways it hasn’t been in so long.

Felix: I did want it to be something that on the surface seems innocuous. Like everything in the movie, I wanted it to have a component of being able to defend it or you could defend it and make sense. In terms of the actual loyalty oath, I never really gave a shit about Donald Trump; I never really knew much about him. Chicago’s not really his town; he was always seen as kind of a goofball. It’s different here. Chicagoan’s don’t care about him. But then as he started entering the political arena and I read more and more about him, I knew that he was obsessed with loyalty. I’ve always been obsessed with McCarthyism and the Red Scare, and there’s a very glaring piece of connective tissue between Roy Cohn, who was McCarthy’s lawyer and Trump’s mentor. That thread is ingrained in Trump. So I knew that loyalty is something we’re not used to talking about, really.

And the crazy thing was, every step of the way when I first started writing it, I don’t know if you remember, but there was this macabre cabinet meeting where Trump went around the room and made everyone swear “I’ll be loyal to you.” And then a month later, he pinned down Jim Comey about being loyal. Then after the movie was done, we were having a screening for distributors, and that day, someone said, “Holy shit, Trump just tweeted that it was National Loyalty Day,” which is something that has existed for years, but no president has been less busy to give a shit about it. So there were these beacons along the way that this concept was permeating; there was this weird instance of life copying art, which was already copying life. So every time something would happen, the producers and I would be like “We have to get this movie out now.”

What I remember about that cabinet meeting is that he made sure cameras were there. Getting it on film is as good as a signature.

Ike: A lot of the people he’s staffed up with, they don’t go back and look at their policies or look at what they said. They go through people’s tweets and make sure they never bagged on Trump. That’s so not American. The most important thing is loyalty to the country, and to make it about loyalty to the president…if it were somebody else, we’d think it was pretty ominous.

The idea of making a film primarily in a single location, is that as easy as it seems, or are there perils to doing that, both during shooting and for the audience?

Ike: 100 percent. The reason we were able to shoot as quickly as we were is because we did it in one location.

And it’s a real place, right? Not a built set.

Ike: Real house in California. The challenge is shooting it and presenting it in a way that your audience doesn’t get visually bored. What I really tried to do is use the camera to manipulate that. You’ll notice, the first hour or so, the frames are nice and wide, and it’s bright and there are lots of people entering and exiting the frame. Then by the end of the movie, we’re here [indicated with his hands a tight close up], the frame are tight and the color is this dark orange, and I wanted people to have that feeling of claustrophobia—the walls are closing in. He’s in there with his family, and I need out. So that was the challenge. Writing the movie in one location is easy, shooting is easy, but presenting it in a way that you’re visually stimulating the audience and putting them in that room is the challenge.

Had you always intended to direct it? How long has that been an ambition?

Ike: I’d directed some episodes of The Mindy Project, and I loved it. When you’re an actor, everything is through a filter. The writers’ words are one filter, the director is another filter, the editor is another filter, and when you’re directing a TV show, a little of the filter disappears but you still have the showrunners’ vision to fulfill. So I knew after a couple of episodes that I wanted to direct a movie, a small personal movie, and which I broke the story, I was like “I’m for sure going to direct this.” I also knew that the tone is so weird and complex that I would only trust me with it. It was definitely always going to be me, and I definitely want to do another one [laughs].

What do you think is the most Chicago thing about you?

Ike: My cholesterol level. [laughs] I’m going to say work ethic, because Chicagoans love people who work. Even if you don’t have a job, that mindset of “I have to keep moving. I got hit in the face, but I’ve got to keep moving.” That is something that I really try to bring with me. And I love deep-dish pizza—Lou Malnati’s, unapologetically.

I’ll see you tonight. Thanks for talking.

Ike: I’ll see you tonight, brother. Can’t wait.

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