Dear Movie Lovers,
There is just too much. Too much to think about, too much to hold on to, too much to fight against. Too many people to talk to, too many restaurants to eat at, and definitely, definitely too many movies to watch.
At the end of 2016, when we started to write Everything Everywhere All at Once, we were already feeling the too-much-ness of it all. We asked ourselves, why add to the noise? In a world where everything and everyone is clawing for our attention, where billion dollar corporations see every single minute of our lives as potential real estate to be bought up and sold off for profit, asking anyone for two hours of their time to watch one of our films felt like asking for, well... too much. We realized if we were going to make a film and ask an audience to give us that precious time, the only responsible thing to do in return was to blow their minds and change their lives forever. Or, at the very least, we were going to attempt that.
Movies can change lives. Though the cynical parts of our hardened hearts often come close to forgetting this fact, it is why we became filmmakers in the first place: films changed our lives. We carried those films with us into the writing process as we weathered years of increasing political polarization and a global pandemic, all the while, our newsfeeds filled evermore with contradictions and chaos. We felt the too-much grow into too too-much. Everything was stretching, all the seams were being exposed, and most troubling to us, our movies, our stories–our cultural glue–felt too slow to keep up. Film production moves at the speed of years, the world was moving at the speed of milliseconds.
Writing Everything Everywhere All At Once was a foolish prayer to a cold, indifferent universe. It was a dream about reconciling all of the contradictions, making sense of the largest questions, and imbuing meaning onto the dumbest, most profane parts of humanity. We wanted to stretch ourselves in every direction to bridge the generational gap that often crumbles into generational trauma. We scoffed at the false dichotomy of Scorsese Cinephiles vs Marvel Fanboys and instead asked "why not both?" It was an attempt to create the narrative equivalent of the Theory of Everything. A Big Data approach to myth-making. A post-genre deconstruction of traditional narrative. A maximalist's manifesto for surviving in the noise of modern life. And holy shit, these two clowns named Daniel were not up for the challenge.
We struggled for many years to crack the code for this script. We went to weddings and we went to funerals. Had kids, became uncles. Planted trees; the trees grew fruit. And every year, the too-much grew. We were the proverbial room of infinite monkeys, diligently smacking away at our typewriters, hoping to stumble upon a script that could hold all of this, and not break. Eventually, we got close. Close enough. We knew if anyone was going to be able to help us over the finish line, it would be our friends. It was time to bring in our crew.
If our script was a prayer, then our movie was a miracle, and the hands doing God's work belonged to the film crew/family we had slowly collected over the course of our decade long careers as directors. Though our script would have made most industry veterans laugh in our faces, we had faith that our film family was ready to handle the task of creating a film that tried to touch infinity but with the budget of a rom com. With only 40 days of principal photography we were trying to make 7 or 8 movies all at the same time, we averaged over 30 lighting set ups a day, we used every single possible camera lens, played in every genre. We made an entire action movie in the same amount of time some Hollywood blockbusters shoot a single set piece but in an environment that promoted safety and respect above all. From the dizzying number of costumes and looks, to the clear and confident flow of the editing and sound design, every frame of this film is filled with their love, passion, and trust. We knew with our crew we could get even closer to making a movie about everything, but we would have to find the right cast to ground the blistering chaos.
Oh, lord, this cast. Between giving the unmistakable Ke Huy Quan his first American role in decades, showcasing the fact that the legendary James Hong still has more to offer even after nearly a century of being in the industry, allowing space for the iconic Jamie Lee Curtis to fully let her beautiful freak flag fly, and introducing cinemagoers to the undeniable talent of Stephanie Hsu, there is no doubt that bringing this cast together will be one of the things we are most proud of in our careers. Despite all of that, we cannot imagine many things in our lives ever topping the fact that Michelle Yeoh said yes to this movie. Not only did Michelle say yes and dive right into the deep end with us, she practically triple back flip cannonballed in. This movie does not exist without her incredible talent and her unwavering trust in our team. This movie is a miracle because she is a miracle. To be a part of any one of this cast's legacy is a privilege enough. But to have even a small hand in revealing to the world all of the untapped potential of these Asian actors who have been waiting their whole careers for roles that demanded this much range and this much heart, is truly soul-bending.
So now after many years of miracles piling onto miracles, the movie is coming out in theaters everywhere. Working on this film has been one of the most beautiful and fulfilling experiences of our lives. We hope many of you see yourselves in the characters. We hope you laugh, cry, and throw your hands up and enjoy the ride in a theater full of strangers. We hope it gives you the beginnings of a vocabulary for better understanding the too-much and how to to exist in it. But most of all, we hope after you watch it, even if you agree we didn't quite reach our goal of including everything, that at least you feel included in this giant, messy, group hug of a film.
From these two Daniels, the cast, and our entire crew, thank you for giving us two hours of your attention. We tried our best to not waste it.
Daniel Kwan & Scheinert