I don't think I can get enough of directing duo Daniels. I think they're making work with such depth and joy that when they have an interview, I find myself gobbling it up. Recently, there was a special episode of NPR’s Short Wave podcast—and guess who the guests were?

Host Emily Kwong chatted with directing duo Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (collectively Daniels), who chatted about their film Everything Everywhere All at Once, and another wide array of tangential topics. 

They started off talking about making a movie about the multiverse, which seems very in right now. 

Daniel Scheinert said, "The thing about the multiverse that fascinated and scared us was the idea of infinity. And we wanted to make a movie that, like, went to too many."

Daniel Kwan elaborated on the classical literature that inspired them. "We're borrowing heavily from Vonnegut and Douglas Adams in the way that—they take science and they just take the absurdity and dial it up to, like, a hundred and try to apply that to the multiverse, just because it just felt like a really good metaphor for what it feels like to be alive right now, to exist in an infinite number of different stories and narratives, kind of colliding constantly in contradictions and emotional whiplash." 

Bts_of_everything_everywhereDanielsCredit: A24

This kind of back and forth can be hard to handle. But they did it, and they layered in some really important themes we don't see in major feature films—ADHD.

Daniel Kwan expanded on this, saying, "Yeah. For this movie, we were trying to—yeah—tell a story about someone who basically dissociates all the time, is constantly in another world in their mind, which is—you know, honestly just came from my own experience." 

Kwan continued, talking about how much character mattered in this movie.

"And so I was like, okay, this is a great start for the character. And in some ways, also, it's inspired by my mother, who was like that growing up, as well. And so we were like, I guess we should do some research and make sure we kind of explore this, you know, in a very empathetic and accurate way. And then, you know, I started reading about it online. I started taking some ADHD tests. I started realizing that, like, you know, through tears—you know, as tears were falling down my face, I was like, oh, no, maybe this is who I am. Maybe this is why I had such a hard time in school and still have such a hard time in my day-to-day life. And then it just became, like, obvious that, you know, even without trying to put in ADHD, this movie was going to be infused with it from the very beginning. The DNA of it was all going to be there." 

The_daniels_on_everything_everywhereDaniels on 'Everything Everywhere All at Once'Credit: A24 Notes

When it all boils down, filmmaking like this has a purpose. It's pulling huge ideas together and funneling them into a common goal. But there is a higher calling behind the way they synthesize ideas.

Kwan said, "Me and my therapist spend most of our time working on, like, how do I feel, you know, okay with myself? And I think that's a very personal journey for me. Like, how can I reflect back to humanity that we are okay, that we are awesome, that we are—because my predisposition is to say we suck, we're miserable, we're selfish, we're—you know, we're self-terminating. And, you know, so it's—I don't know, it's not a fun answer to your question, but it's like everything—everything is always pushing us away from the center. And I feel like we're—like, storytellers like us are just trying to, like, reclaim ourselves in that story somehow." 

I found this interview to be so enlightening. Not only was it a look at their process, but also into the greater overall theses of the stories they want to tell. 

Let me know what you think in the comments. 

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