Daniel Scheinert gets back to his native state every time in a while, but he loves hearing about how people in Alabama react to his bizarre films.
Families and friends from Birmingham have told him they've seen his and his co-director Daniel Kwan's (billed together as "Daniels") new film now playing in cinemas everywhere. But he recalls one story from 2016, when their film "Swiss Army Man" became public. The film titled "Swiss Army Man" was enthralled by fans in Birmingham, but others shook their heads.
A friend told Scheinert they saw it at the Summit, and when the credits began rolling, someone in the row said, "Daniel, Daniel, Daniel."
I never found out who it was, but Im confident it was one of my teachers just being like, What a strange kid, Scheinert said.
The Daniels' latest film has. Ninety-seven. The consensus says: "Everywhere All At Once, with an expertly calibrated assault on the senses," follows an aging Chinese immigrant who was swept up in a terrible adventure, where she alone can save the world by exploring other forms of connections.
The Daniels have made a profound personal journey for the Daniels, particularly as it relates to their own parents and the generation gap enhanced by the internet. So, Scheinert even worked a little Alabama into the multiverse.
Scheinert was first admitted to Oak Mountain Elementary and Middle Schools before going to Shades Valley High School. His parents now live in Guntersville. He said he learned filmmaking during high school through local competitions and musical theater.
Read the briefing below to learn more about discovering the filmmaking bug in Alabama, getting early support from his parents, directing helpful movies, resisting internet bullying, and, well, becoming spanked by Michelle Yeoh.
I'd like to hear more about you going through Sidewalk in young filmmaker competitions and in your time in musical theatre at Shades Valley. What was it in Alabama specifically that you really helped you to express your passion for movies?
Daniel Scheinert: I think she and her husband grew up in Guntersville, but she and all of their sisters were super creative. So they encouraged me to do Odyssey of the Mind and Destination Imagination as a kid, which were really creative competitions that we did. So when I got hooked on my computer, I started doing something like it. So, when I got into theater, I was like, "This is incredible." After three years of high school, I decided to go through the Sidewalk Film Festival.
Do you ever return to Alabama?
I got to go back last August because I had to be there for a while. While the Sidewalk Film Festival is still my favorite film festival, I always advise other filmmakers that it is a great time to have fun at the festival. Many of my films have been released in Alabama, so I come back for that whenever I can. As a result, people are angry when they see that you're going to the theaters.
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Michael Yeoh (above) stars in "Everything Everywhere All at once" and is now playing in theaters everywhere. (A24 / Allyson Riggs)
I'm interested in your parents' reactions to the film. It's very specific about a Chinese family, but it's also cultural specificity in terms of dynamics, but some of that is universal in the sense that people do well to please their parents while still don't feel well enough. Yes, Evelyn and Joy's experiences mirror yours in anyway, and what do you hope for when you show your parents your work?
We started out a name for ourselves making phony, sometimes perverted music videos and short films that the internet would discuss. There was always a part of the process which was always talking to our parents about our latest bizarre film and trying to explain why we use our college tuition to make dancing boobs and penises happen. In a way, that inspired this movie. My husband and wife were both in their 50s. She kind of became the internet.
If you live in an immigrant, there is a generation gap that I think is further-pronounced, especially if you were visiting Dan and his parents who came from Hong Kong and Taiwan. I believe this is because when my mother was born on a farm, she was able to make movies with movie stars in Los Angeles. It's quite simple. And it's a continuous process.
In another interview,, that there were instances you didn't even realize it was personal until you saw it through a different lens after someone pointed it out. Did you squeeze any piece of Alabama into it, whether it was realized or not?
I think on the other hand, it is not that different. My parents divorced in Alabama because they learned to live in a similar manner. I'd not grown up in Guntersville, where my mother lived. I think Alabama may be somewhat close-minded sometimes and homophobic and really-interested in tradition, but I feel that feeling is beneficial as a kid. And here, this film is a love letter to our parents at the same time, as it's dealing with family issues.
I read you talk about this production going back to a point where it was a big indie that didn't come with the kind of oversight you wanted to, so you had the freedom to make important decisions you wanted to make. I have to assume that while you had the freedom, how did you feel following casting legends like Michelle Yeoh, Jamie Lee Curtis, James Hong, and Ke Huy Quan, who were particularly interested in expanding their audiences, and how did they differ from others?
The most rewarding part of it was that we just cast those we thought were right for the roles, but we discovered that there are a huge Chinese-American community and so many incredible Asian actors in general that are underutilized and very eager to play complicated roles. We lucked out that there's a meta-narrative that in the film you encounter these laundromat owners and they end up containing multitudes as characters, and the hope is that the audiences watch it and leave the theater a little more em
Even this meta-narrative of like, these stars like Michelle Yeoh that we have celebrated for years have been boxed in and all along they had so much to offer. Michelle is so much more than the regal, beautiful woman she plays in the film "Crazy Rich Asians." She is hilarious and funny, and Hollywood hasn't given her the chance to stretch those wings. So it makes us look really cool that all the sudden we get to do it, you know? We just had to pick the appropriate people
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"This is something I've been waiting for... for a long time." Michelle Yeoh on & meeting with the Watch the whole video here:
Did you see the clip of, where she was enthused about this film, and how she had been waiting for something like that to show her supporters and others what she was capable of?
I'd like to see more films where you just pick all of those amazing actors who haven't gotten to stretch their wings and given them a chance. I've seen it a lot lately. It's funny, but it's similar to our character of Evelyn. Michelle can put up a tough front and act confident. I had just heard about it when she told us that she was so sorry for me and Dan. I'm glad that she did, and she's kind of teasing us
Below are a few notes for "Everything Everywhere All at once."
I think you've heard you or Daniel Kwan say that day was one of Michelle Yeoh's favorite days on set. What was it like acting in a, well, set piece with one of our greatest action stars?
I thought it was a bit intimidating. Yeah, it is a mild spoiler, but I play a very small character into BDSM. It kind of boiled down to an inside joke with the actors, where everyone gets to laugh at the director who gets a ball-gag put in his mouth now. So I thought Michelle would have been very happy to turn the tables and embarrass me on camera. [Laughs]
I think its a dangerous thing, making a film. And Daniel Kwan said, We realized that as long as we went really far with the absurdity, we might go as corny as we wanted to be. Kindness is such a driving force of this film, and Ive talked to other artists about the need of kindness. What is the point of view for painting to convey that message right now?
I think it comes from a personal place that, on the other hand, Dan and I are not agro-manly men. So when I see a film about a guy rescuing his family and fighting for what he believes in with guns, I think violence is an answer. It's frightening to know that your film may have an unintended effect. It's so rare that you regret being kind. It's such a powerful tool that can change the world and so rarely hurt the world. So we
This film is a reaction to the internet and how frightening life can be today as you scroll through emotive, illogical images. Someone commenting on your Facebook and you just having the urge to scream at them because they're so rude. I feel like the Trump administration was a celebration of being a bully, and I would bully back and get so angry. So I wanted to therapeutically reflect on our own self-acceptance and compassion, and try to keep that focus on the things you love in the middle of
I believe this film is completely original, because you are only two people who might have done it, and I don't want to be caught up in influences. Like Daniel Kwan's recent Twitter thread, Michel Gondry is a name that came to mind, and a few others, however, I am simply curious. What you should think about is that film or filmmaker who has actually discovered it.
I think most art is stealing from other artists but also from your life. We like to learn about the kung fu movies from Asia so much that people like Bong Joon-ho can easily combine drama and slapstick comedy but it works. But this is why we just like it, because we love people who like [Paprika] Miyazaki, who played "Shaolin Soccer" and "Kung Fu Hustle." And we just love how science fiction and how it works, although there are
'Everything Everywhere All at once' is playing in theaters everywhere. This weekend, the film will be released.