BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — It’s the most talked about movie of the year, and two of its creative masterminds call the Magic City home.
“Everything Everywhere All at Once” is truly everywhere this awards season. The imaginative and absurd kung-fu sci-fi family dramedy, featuring everything from characters with hot dogs for fingers to sentient rocks with googly eyes, emerged as both a runaway hit and a critical darling, garnering 11 nominations at this year’s Oscars — more than any other film– including Best Picture.
The film’s hero is Chinese American immigrant Evelyn Wang, the frustrated owner of a failing laundromat facing an audit from the IRS until she’s pulled into a sequence of parallel universes and tasked with saving the world.
Daniel Scheinert and Paul Rogers are the Birmingham boys who made it big in Hollywood on their own terms.
Scheinert is the co-director and co-writer with Daniel Kwan, and he’s nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars. Rogers, the film’s editor, is nominated for Best Editing.
Scheinert said their surprise success makes him feel like he’s stepped into his own parallel universe.
“It means the world to us this year … It feels like I got pulled into a weird high-concept alternate universe and that in another nearby universe I’m still just like wandering my neighborhood,” Scheinert said.
The filmmaker began his career by interning for Birmingham’s Sidewalk Film Festival.
“I have a lot of hometown pride, so I always get a kick out of telling people that they should go visit and go to Sidewalk Film Festival and do a food tour around the city,” Scheinert said.
He’s also always on the hunt to work with any Alabamians he can find.
“They’re just smarter, cooler, more attractive,” Scheinert joked. “A lot of my close friends in LA are also like Alabama ex-patriots.”
One of them is Rogers, who reflected on what he missed most about home.
“I miss Milos, I miss thunderstorms, I miss the sound of crickets at night,” Rogers said.
Strangely enough, the pair didn’t meet in Birmingham but in LA when Rogers showed up to Scheinert’s roller-skating birthday party with a mutual friend.
They bonded, and an award-winning partnership was born. They like to joke about some of the comments they hear in California about being from Alabama.
“‘Do you ride tractors to school?’ I haven’t heard those in a while,” Rogers said.
Even if you don’t know anything about editing, it’s obvious Rogers had a monster of a task in how to make sense of the multiverse.
“It was an incredibly intimidating script to read, just the way that they constructed the script is so impressive, I mean they spent years on it … I took it one day at a time and tried to have fun,” he said.
The editor began his career working on documentaries at Alabama Public Television, an experience he feels helped prepare him for this.
However, ‘”Everything” was not the duo’s first big-screen collaboration. In 2019, Scheinert and Rogers teamed up for another mind-bender called “The Death of Dick Long” — a slightly less bizarre blend of dark comedy and crime drama shot in Birmingham.
Now with their success, they hope for more collaborations like these and to bring more movies back home to central Alabama. Scheinert hopes that one day Birmingham could become an epicenter for the film industry.
“I have loved every time I’ve gone back and shot a movie in Alabama – it’s just like a therapeutic process for me, but also, people are just so excited and welcoming and enthusiastic to hear about the movie you’re making,” Scheinert said.
The Oscars are this Sunday, March 12.