The 2022 multiverse movie doesn’t have caped sorcerers, multimillion-dollar budgets, or the gears of industry at its beck and call. ‘Everything at the same time everywhere’ premiered without making the same noise as its marvelous counterpart to become a phenomenon indie that has raised almost 60 million dollars in the United States and that already has more than 10 pockets in its international journey.
On the occasion of the landing of the feature film in Spain, I had the opportunity to chat with the Daniels —Daniel Scheinert and Dan Kwan—, the two directors responsible for this fantastic madness sponsored by the A24 studio. A really charming duo that exudes passion for the medium in each of their words.
- How do you pitch such madness to a studio? Was it difficult to get the project off the ground?
Daniel Scheinert (DS): It was difficult, but the initial pitch was quite easy because our first movie was about a farting corpse, and it was a “fart drama”. So this time we were like “It’s a kung-fu movie with multiverses”, and his answer was “That sounds much easier to sell, we’re interested”.
But, you know, as you’ve seen, the film is very ambitious. And every step of the way we were constantly going a little further, like, “How crazy should I be?” and adjusting the pitch. But we always say that weird movies attract weird people, so we didn’t mind being turned down, because it would just be, “Okay, you’re not interested in riding this roller coaster.” It’s okay. Fortunately for us, people like Michelle Yeoh and A24 were very excited for all the right reasons.
- Did you just mention A24? How has it been working with them as producers? Currently they are like a kind of totem of creativity and freedom in the industry.
DS: It was great. And they are very happy, because the movie is selling tickets. Everyone is happy.
- Yes, I was surprised how well it has worked being so? peculiar.
Dan Kwan (D.K.): Yes! She is also surprising us. Independent movies are having a tough time in theaters, so you go into these releases with your fingers crossed and the knowledge that it could be an outright flop. But this has been a wonderful surprise, and I think part of it is because of A24.
Their entire business model is centered around finding interesting creators, artists, and filmmakers, giving them media, and letting them do their thing. There was very little creative tweaking on his part. Of course, they gave us notes and directions and we had a lot of creative discussions, but ultimately they knew it was our film and our vision. They were very attentive in that aspect, letting us be ourselves. It’s been wonderful being a part of the A24 family and experiencing firsthand what it’s like to work with a studio that you, you know, trust.
- And speaking of creativity, how do you see the industry right now? Is there much talk of a lack of creativity on the part of the big studios?
DK: I would say that one of the most interesting things right now is that there is a lot of creativity. A lot of interesting and strange things are being done right now. The problem is the scope they have. How do they find their audience? How do they manage to sneak through the noise? I think there’s so much going on that the only thing that matters is what’s getting the best numbers, and what’s getting the best numbers are the franchises, the things that people already recognize. You can say “Sonic”, and everyone will tell you “Yes, I know Sonic too”. I don’t think there is a lack of creativity. I think what is missing is the synergy needed to release it.
One thing we’ve always been aware of is combining all the things we love with the things the general public loves, and trying to find a middle ground between the two where we could create something that could stand out. And, later, in addition to standing out, surviving the examination of those people. You know, do something good enough, deep enough; a personal and emotional story that, in addition, was a very strange action movie and that people talked about. When you combine those things, it’s just natural selection.
We just tried to create a genetically modified creature that would try to survive in the current climate. I think that’s something that filmmakers are realizing more and more. I don’t think people had to think that much before the internet came along. Once the internet came along, it’s harder and harder to stand out, even if you’re the most creative.
- Yes, the internet has radically changed the rules of the game. Internet, and streaming?
DS: I love going to the movies. Not only because of the sound at full volume or because the screen is very large. I love, you know, sitting down and going on a movie trip with a bunch of strangers. And I love to talk about it before and after, I like to find a bar close by where you can talk about it. Every time a cinema makes it easier, I am very grateful; and every time a movie gives me that experience, it makes me very happy.
My hope is that with our movie, there will be people who think, “Oh, it’s going to be an action movie and I’m going to have my little experience for a couple of hours,” but then are willing to take risks as part of the audience in a very exciting movie. strange and personal. Seeing people cry or laugh together when they watch the movie is very exciting. I don’t know if this counts as an opinion, but I just want more stuff like that.
conceiving the inconceivable
- I would like to talk about your creative process. How were your brainstorming sessions to create the multiverse of the film? Because I think about them and they could be hilarious and a nightmare at the same time.
D.K.: I would say they were 80% nightmare and 20% fun.
DS: Really? Seriously Dan?! I had a good time with you!
D.K.: It gives the feeling that you are drowning in a sea of ideas and can not escape. And you feel like you want to be angry with the world, but you realize that it’s your fault. It’s you who turns it into a nightmare.
Generally speaking, our goal was to make a multiverse movie that would go to infinity, completely break all logic and break narrative to achieve anything. And knowing that that was one of our goals made the process terrifying, because we had to figure out how to connect with the film, how to make people feel that existential fear of someone experiencing something too big to comprehend. That was the starting point, and the journey to get there was a pain in the ass.
DS: There were certain aspects of the film that we were excited about and that were tremendously high priorities, and we had to make sure we got them right so that everything looked and felt amazing. But for a lot of the movie, we were talking to our crew and our cast while we were writing. We had these logistical conversations about how we could have ten universes in an hour, maybe messing around with costumes and with camera movements.
In the end, it’s really fun to see how the final product connects with people knowing how many tricks we had to pull out of our sleeves to make it. It involved huge amounts of hard work for a lot of people. Sometimes logistics was what told us how to do things.
- The truth is that, seeing it, you can see that it is a very complicated film to execute. But above all, I think the characters are its true heart. What were your bases to create them?
D.K.: I think one of the things we realized early on is that when you do a maximalist story with so many elements, there’s a constant threat of everything falling apart while you’re working on it. We needed a really strong core, and that was the family, which was going to tie everything together. Still, our first version of the script was 240 pages long.
Little by little we found ourselves with acid tests when advancing the narrative of Evelyn, the character of Michelle [Yeoh]. If there was something that wasn’t progressing it, we had to consider removing it, but from time to time we cheated and left things that weren’t progressing it very much.
I like having such a personal story at the center makes everything universal. I think the movie could easily have become a niche piece for science fiction lovers, or maybe kung-fu movie fans, but because this story about family is at its core, it becomes something that our mother-in-law or our grandmother can say “I love”. It’s been such a surprise to see who connects with her, and I think that’s because of what Michelle, Key and Stephanie were able to bring to our characters.
- And that’s why it has done so well at the box office!
- To finish, being two directors, I would like you to tell me what your dynamic is on the set. Do you distribute tasks according to departments? Do you two do a little of everything?
DS: Yes! Dan does most of the work and I get half the credit.
D.K.: Yes, more or less it is…
DS: It has been changing a bit with each project. We use each other for guidance when trying to solve a problem, and then divide tasks based on our passions. Sometimes it comes down to the character that you have the most connection with, so you work more with the actor playing him. It all depends.
I worry a lot about the schedule and the shooting plan. I run to talk to the art department, and then to the stunt guys about what we’re going to shoot later that day to make sure nothing’s been left out. Meanwhile, Dan is on the monitor reviewing each shot to make sure he likes how everything turned out.
It is a very fun collaboration that marks the atmosphere on the set, in which we like that there is a good vibe, good communication and that it is collaborative. Since we have to spread the responsibilities, it makes it easier to bring the director of photography, the production designer, the producer or the actors into the process, and not be a couple of egomaniacs on the monitor who are in charge of everything.
- It makes sense and seems to make everything a bit easier.
D.K.: We also take turns getting stressed.
DS: Yes! That too! I’m going crazy and Dan can roll while I’m out for a walk.
D.K.: There are many stories about directors losing their minds, and that happens to us too. But I think the reason we can embark on such ambitious projects is because we can share the stress, and we can spread it out in a way that’s a little bit healthier. And it gives us the courage to try things that other filmmakers haven’t done before because there are two of us to carry it.