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Birmingham native behind one of the weirdest, mind-bending and critically acclaimed films of 2022

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – In high school, Daniel Scheinert and his friends made a movie, their own version of a Kung Fu movie, shot in their backyard in the suburb of Birmingham they grew up in.

Director Daniel Scheinert poses for a portrait to promote the film ‘The Death of Dick Long’. (Photo by Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP)

Scheinert, who went to Shades Valley High School, eventually submitted the film to the Sidewalk Film Festival. For him, the idea of ​​someone sitting in a cinema to watch his film, the first he screened at the festival, was just incredible.

“The first thing I ever played Sidewalk for an audience was our fake Kung Fu movie,” Scheinert said. “And now I have to do one with Michelle Yeoh.”

Scheinert’s new film, which he co-wrote and directed with Daniel Kwan, is “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” which stars Yeoh (“Crazy Rich Asians”) as a Chinese-American mother. overworked woman who finds herself and her family torn between different worlds while trying to file their taxes. Released last week, the film to critical acclaim and has a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

On paper, “Everything Everywhere All at Once” is made up of multiple movies, depending on how you see it. It’s a comedy, a Kung Fu movie, a superhero movie and a family drama all rolled into one. And Scheinert said it was much more than that.

“Basically, we kind of wanted to appeal to the crowd that wants to go see a Marvel movie and be like, ‘Hey, there’s that many fight scenes and it’s the same length, there’s fun visual effects It’s a Marvel movie, but ultimately it’s grounded in something personal and emotional,” Scheinert said. “At the end of the day, it’s about this family and every universe, too. strange as it is, is meant to take this family on a journey.”

Birmingham native behind one of the weirdest, mind-bending and critically acclaimed films of 2022
Michelle Yeoh in a scene from “Everything Everywhere All at Once”. (Courtesy of A24)

Scheinert, who also wrote and directed “Swiss Army Man” with Kwan, is surprised by the number of positive reviews “Everything” has received. However, more than the critical acclaim, he is most proud of how audiences have received the film.

“So many people talk about what it must have been like to see it in a theater, and it makes me so happy because my favorite theatrical experience isn’t the biggest screen or the loudest speakers, it’s is the most fun audience,” he said. “And the fact that people are coming in with crowds and laughing and screaming and crying together, you know, and then celebrating the movie for that reason, I’m like, ‘Oh fuck yeah, that’s what I wanted. “”

Apart from Yeoh, another actor whose performance has been praised is Ke Huy Quan, best known for several memorable performances in the 1980s as Short Round in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and Data in “The Goonies “. “Everything” marks Quan’s first major role in over 20 years.

Scheinert said a recent comment he saw on Twitter calling Quan “an absolute movie star” in the film made him particularly emotional.

Birmingham native behind one of the weirdest, mind-bending and critically acclaimed films of 2022
Ke Huy Quan in a scene from “Everything Everywhere All at Once”. (Courtesy of A24)

“I just started to imagine what he would think reading this because his character is a nice pushover, a nice guy who just gets pushed away from this action adventure, but doesn’t is ultimately that treasure of a person. And that’s also what Ke is. He said. “He’s just the nicest guy and he was overlooked by Hollywood and they missed the shot, and he should have been in movies from the start. And and just like the movie, now we can celebrate it, which feels good. It seems like a cosmic coincidence that it happened this way.

Although the film is only set in a handful of locations – a laundromat, an IRS office, and countless parallel universes – Alabama played a part in how Scheinert and Kwan wrote and filmed. the film. While writing “Everything”, Scheinert decided to return to Alabama to make a movie of his own, “The Death of Dick Long”, a dark comedy involving two friends trying to cover up their friend’s death.

Scheinert said making “The Death of Dick Long” shaped the way he made films, something he would bring to “Everything.”

“I loved the script, but I also wanted to experiment with how we make movies, not just what we make them about,” Scheinert said. “The film is a bit dark and upsetting, and we try to balance that out by making it in the most healthy and ethical way possible.”

Birmingham native behind one of the weirdest, mind-bending and critically acclaimed films of 2022
A scene from “The Death of Dick Long”, directed solely by Daniel Scheinert and shot in Birmingham. (Courtesy of A24)

Scheinert said while filming ‘Dick Long’ outside Birmingham, he and the crew formed relationships with the community, from people they rented houses to for filming to non-profit groups. to which they donated. He felt that this off-screen approach impacted what was shown on screen.

“I think that bled into the movie and made the movie better and made everyone work harder,” he said. “And so I went in, I came back from that experience, and I persuaded our producers, John and Dan, to try to approach this movie in the same way and say, ‘This movie is about kindness. If we’re doing this movie in a mean way, we’re being so hypocritical.

Bringing that same approach from “Dick Long” to “Everything” was a joy for Scheinert.

“A lot of it came down to trying to engage the Chinese-American community and empowering them and celebrating their culture while making the movie itself, but also doing a lot of sustainability efforts and trying to not filling out a waiver while we were making our movie.”

Scheinert said Alabama played a huge role in helping him develop his creative vision, where acting was his college sport and the Sidewalk Film Festival showed him how far films could go.

Birmingham native behind one of the weirdest, mind-bending and critically acclaimed films of 2022
Daniel Kwan, left, and Daniel Scheinert on the set of ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’. (Courtesy of A24)

“I feel like I met a bunch of like-minded weirdos when I was a kid, and it was really fun,” he said.

Scheinert said he wanted to keep moving forward as a filmmaker, finding new ways to tell different stories.

“If it’s not personal at all, then you’re just wasting your time and your audience’s time, so we’re always looking for questions that we really care about, that we don’t know the answer to, that kind of scare us and trying to make sense of my own life by chewing on projects that will explore something that I’m trying to understand,” he said. “There will always be something emotional and personal that we will explore .”


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