Prepare For Everything Everywhere All At Once With Daniels’ Incredible Music Videos

If one thing's been made clear over the years, it's that there is no one way for filmmakers and storytellers of all stripes to chart their own journeys to Hollywood. In fact, it seems like the more idiosyncratic and exciting a talent they are, the more unexpected and unique their path to putting a foot through the door and finding success appears to be. Short films, for example, can strike a chord among general audiences and industry people alike, as "Turning Red" director Domee Shi recently accomplished to incredible results with the acclaimed "Bao" in 2018. Others, like David Fincher, Spike Jonze, Antoine Fuqua, Jonathan Glazer, and Michael Bay, to name a few, have taken alternate routes to making a name for themselves, and got their starts and showed off their visual and narrative potential with music videos.

But with the release of 2016's "Swiss Army Man," a certain upstart duo of utterly unhinged but absolutely genius minds arrived on the scene and all but demanded that the rest of us add their names to that storied list of filmmakers who got their start with shorts and music videos. If you don't know by now, directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert go by the combined pseudonym of Daniels, itself a disarmingly provocative moniker that hints at the particular sense of humor that they've infused in their work: A gleefully dry wit that certainly comes across in practically every interview they ever give. 

"Swiss Army Man" notoriously caused huffy walkouts when it premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, but for those who missed out on the weirdly moving and unexpectedly empathetic joys of that movie, it was there loss. Though Scheinert went and made the equally bizarre "The Death of Dick Long" in the interim, "Everything Everywhere All At Once" marks the duo's grand reunion and reviews out of SXSW have been nothing short of rapturous.

To help set the scene for whatever madness is in store for us with their latest feature, there's no better time to look back at their music video directing days and officially recognize what was right there in front of us all along: The Daniels are creative, innovative, and -- dare we say it -- visionary talents who are here to stay. Long live the Daniels!

FM Belfast -- Underwear

Perhaps it's only fitting that the minds which brought you farting corpses and multiversal hijinks to rival Marvel or DC's attempts at similar territory originally made their mark with a music video about ... people running down the street in their underwear. What else did you expect? Released by the Icelandic pop band FM Belfast, the aptly-titled "Underwear" gave the Daniels a chance to bring an endearingly DIY approach, which they certainly made the most of. It's difficult to draw a perfectly straight line from this to the feast of visual hijinks apparently on display throughout "Everything Everywhere All At Once," but messing around with camera speed, timing, stop-motion effects, and all sorts of other tricks manages to show just how much the Daniels got out of so little. They'd eventually take this mentality to the extreme with their low-budget debut "Swiss Army Man" less than a decade later.

The Hundred In The Hands -- Pigeons

After a grand total of two music videos, the unmistakable qualities of what separates a Daniels production from, well, anyone else's already feels like a bone-deep distinction. The New York City duo The Hundred in the Hands, made up of Eleanore Everdell and Jason Friedman, brought in the Daniels to add their manic energy to a music video about a partying women who maybe parties just a little too hard. Even before we get to the portion where the star of the video starts vomiting fire and sparks, the sheer amount of match cuts, kinetic camera movement, and sudden zoom-ins and speed ramping all feel like neat precursors to incredibly similar techniques that they'd go on to use in the future to such great success. And then, yeah, there's the whole vomiting fire part, disorienting camera tilts, nifty scene transitions, and various methods of messing around with time and space to help make viewers feel like the ones who've maybe had a drink or three too many.

You'll want to read about the Daniels exploring their thought process that went into the creation of this video here -- trust me.

Manchester Orchestra -- Simple Math

Who knew a horrific car crash could be captured on video so beautifully? That seems to have been the mission statement behind indie rock band Manchester Orchestra's single, "Simple Math." And who else but the Daniels could bring such evocative images of everyday aspects to life in ways most people never would've even imagined? Of the three we've covered here so far, the end result of this music video perhaps best exemplifies the sheer range of outside-the-box thinking that the directing duo brings to every single project. Even otherwise mundane scenes of domestic life around a dinner table take on an abstract and heightened atmosphere, through little more than the way the camera pans across a spilled glass of milk.

Here's a fun bonus for those who love seeing how these sorts of videos are created in the first place: The band released a behind-the-scenes feature that captures how exactly the Daniels accomplished such an entertaining feat.

Chromeo -- When The Night Falls (Feat. Solange Knowles)

Music so good, it'll instantly impregnate you. Yup, if we hadn't reached "weird" territory before, we officially have now. Some highbrow folks out there might look down their nose at juvenile humor, blatantly self-deprecating male fantasies, and the undeniably goofy optics of seeing baby bumps instantly appear like magic. Well, I'm here to tell you that I hope I never grow up into a bore like that. The Daniels sure seem like they'd agree with that, as their next project involved partnering with Canadian electronic/funk band Chromeo and assisting them in taking a turn for the surreal. The dreamlike tone suddenly dropping out by the end of the song and splashing a cold dose of reality onto the preceding 3+ minutes feels like exactly the kind of premise that would attract such narrative-focused directors to a music video like this. And if you ever wondered about the possible inspiration for certain body-altering moments in later, more famous Daniels-directed music videos like "Turn Down For What," well, you may have just gotten your answer.

Tenacious D -- Rize Of The Fenix

Now, I would say that with this next music video, we've finally hit the phase in the Daniels' career where they officially reached the next level ... but that would (incorrectly) imply that they'd ever go on to endure a "flop era," and personally I have my doubts that'll ever happen. But there's no way around it: Collaborating with Jack Black's Tenacious D is a pretty solid benchmark to measure yourself against to see if you've made it or not. And for the Daniels, their work on "Rize of the Fenix" is clearly their most ambitious yet. Though if you ever worried that they'd lose sight of the small-scale approach that helped get them here in the first place, you could rest easy. The intentional inclusion of visible green screen and crew members pulling off the special effects only makes it even clearer just how perfect a combination the Daniels and Tenacious D really are, a compliment of similar senses of humor and self-awareness. At this point, the music video that would truly land the filmmakers on the map for good was yet to come, but revisiting this one in all its scrappy, underdog, and cheesy glory sure never gets old.

DJ Snake, Lil Jon -- Turn Down For What

Oh yes, you knew this one was coming. What better way to cap off this little appreciation of the Daniels' music video career than with the one that changed everything? In retrospect, the game-changing video for "Turn Down For What" almost functions as a sort of victory lap for the directing partners, showing off some of their most polished and viral-ready madcap work that proves they have their finger on the pulse. It doesn't take an expert to see how certain aspects that would later show up in "Swiss Army Man," like the magic boner-compass or Manny the corpse's (Daniel Radcliffe) darkly hilarious (and quasi-body horror?) superhuman abilities, first proved feasible right here, in the most absurdist ways possible. Of any director's origin story, this wildly popular music video putting the Daniels' squarely in the spotlight simply feels right for these genre-defying and impossible-to-label directors.

"Everything Everywhere All At Once" has been attempting to live up to outsized expectations right from the start, back when we here at /Film crowned its trailer as the absolute best of last year. As difficult as it may seem for any of us mere mortals to attempt to understand the level that the Daniels are operating on, these select music videos give just a taste of what viewers can expect from their filmography so far. Be sure to check out all their music videos, short films, and even commercials right here while we wait for "Everything Everywhere All At Once" to blow our minds when it comes out in limited release tomorrow, March 25, 2022. No pressure, guys!

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