Daniel Scheinert

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In the world of filmmaking, where formulaic storytelling often dominates, there are a few rare individuals who dare to challenge conventions and pave their own path. One such visionary is Daniel Scheinert, a filmmaker known for his offbeat sensibility and unique blend of absurdity and surrealism in his work. From his early days experimenting with unconventional narrative structures to forming a creative partnership that would redefine his career, Scheinert’s journey has been nothing short of remarkable. In this article, we take a comprehensive look at the life and work of this maverick artist and explore the unexpected realms of absurdity and surrealism he brings to the world of cinema.

The Early Years


Born in 1987 in Charlottesville, Virginia, Daniel Scheinert’s artistic journey began in his formative years. From an early age, he developed a fascination for experimental filmmaking and delved into exploring unconventional narrative structures and visual techniques. This passion for pushing the boundaries of traditional storytelling would become a defining characteristic of Scheinert’s work.

A Love for Experimental Filmmaking

Scheinert’s love for experimental filmmaking was evident from his earliest films. In high school, he made a documentary about the local punk rock scene, which he created by editing together footage from different concerts and interviews with band members. This project allowed him to experiment with nonlinear storytelling and layering different types of content to create a cohesive narrative.

Throughout college, Scheinert continued to hone his skills and expand his understanding of experimental filmmaking. He studied film theory and immersed himself in the works of avant-garde filmmakers like David Lynch and Luis Buñuel. His senior thesis film, “The Life and Death of Tommy Chaos and Stacey Danger,” garnered widespread attention and solidified his reputation as a rising talent in the world of experimental cinema.

The Influence of Surrealism

One of the key elements that sets Scheinert’s work apart is his fascination with surrealism. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Buñuel and Salvador Dali, Scheinert incorporates dreamlike sequences and bizarre imagery into his films. This infusion of surrealism adds an extra layer of depth and intrigue to his storytelling, creating a unique viewing experience for audiences.

Scheinert’s use of surrealism is not limited to his visual style; it also extends to his exploration of themes and subject matter. In his feature film debut “Swiss Army Man,” he tackles complex ideas such as loneliness and the human condition in a whimsical and absurd manner. This approach allows him to shed light on profound issues while keeping the audience engaged and entertained.

Scheinert’s experiments with filmmaking throughout his early years laid the foundation for his unconventional artistic perspective. He developed a keen eye for detail and a deep understanding of what makes a story truly captivating. These skills would serve him well in his future endeavors and establish him as a maverick in the world of cinema.


Daniel Kwan and the Daniels


In 2006, Scheinert’s creative path crossed with that of Daniel Kwan, a fellow filmmaker with a similar artistic sensibility. The two immediately hit it off, bonded by their shared love for unconventional storytelling and a penchant for the absurd. Together, they formed a creative partnership that would go on to redefine their careers and bring their distinct brand of storytelling to the forefront of the industry.

The Early Collaborations

As individuals, Scheinert and Kwan had already established themselves as promising filmmakers. But when they joined forces, their talents were multiplied, and their creativity knew no bounds. Their first collaboration was a music video for the band The Hundred in the Hands, which was met with critical acclaim and marked the beginning of a fruitful partnership.

Scheinert and Kwan’s early collaborations were characterized by their ability to seamlessly blend different elements of filmmaking. They combined live-action footage with stop-motion animation, puppetry, and other techniques to create visually stunning and thought-provoking content. Their work caught the attention of major brands like Coke, Google, and MTV, and they were soon sought after for their unique style and approach to storytelling.

The Rise of “The Daniels”

In 2013, Scheinert and Kwan officially formed their creative partnership under the moniker “The Daniels.” This name, derived from their first names, became synonymous with their collaborative work and set them apart as a dynamic duo in the industry. Under this new identity, they continued to produce memorable projects, including the short film “Interesting Ball,” which won a Sundance Film Festival award in 2015.

However, it was their feature film debut, “Swiss Army Man,” that truly put The Daniels on the map. The film, starring Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2016 and received critical praise for its bold and unconventional storytelling. It went on to win several awards and cemented Scheinert and Kwan’s status as visionary auteurs.

The Daniels: A Unique Style of Filmmaking


One of the most distinctive characteristics of The Daniels’ work is their use of absurdity, surrealism, and offbeat humor. Together, they have created a signature style that challenges norms and defies categorization. Their films often deal with profound themes and ideas but deliver them in a whimsical and playful manner, creating a one-of-a-kind viewing experience.

Surreal Imagery and Unconventional Storytelling

In their films, Scheinert and Kwan use surreal imagery and unconventional storytelling techniques to create a sense of wonder and intrigue. They often juxtapose seemingly unrelated elements to create a cohesive narrative, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. This approach keeps the audience on their toes and encourages them to look beyond what is presented on the surface.

Their films also feature unexpected twists and turns, subverting audience expectations and keeping them engaged until the very end. In “Swiss Army Man,” for example, they transform a dead body into a multi-purpose tool and explore themes of loneliness and connection through this unconventional premise. This kind of absurdity and surrealism is a trademark of The Daniels’ style and has become synonymous with their work.

Blending Genres and Techniques

Another aspect that sets The Daniels’ films apart is their ability to blend different genres and filmmaking techniques. Their projects often combine live-action footage with animation, puppetry, and other visual effects to create a unique and visually striking aesthetic.

In addition, their films also traverse multiple genres, from drama to comedy to fantasy, blurring the lines between them. This genre-bending approach allows them to tell stories that are both thought-provoking and entertaining, appealing to a wide range of audiences.

Daniel Scheinert’s journey from experimental filmmaker to one half of The Daniels has been an unconventional one. He has carved a distinct path for himself in the world of cinema and continues to push the boundaries of storytelling with each project he takes on. His partnership with Daniel Kwan has resulted in some of the most innovative and engaging films of recent years, solidifying his status as a true maverick in the industry.


2016: Swiss Army Man

Genre: Dark comedy, surrealist

Runtime: 95 minutes

Plot: Swiss Army Man tells the story of Hank Thompson (Paul Dano), a man stranded on a deserted island with a dead body named Manny (Daniel Radcliffe). Hank discovers that Manny has a number of unique abilities, including the ability to fart and propel Hank through the air, and the ability to shoot a stream of water from his mouth. Hank uses Manny’s abilities to help him survive on the island and eventually escape. Along the way, the two develop a strange and unexpected friendship.

Reception: Swiss Army Man received generally positive reviews from critics, with many praising its originality, humor, and performances. The film was a moderate box office success, grossing over $8 million worldwide.

2022: Everything Everywhere All at Once

Genre: Science fiction, action, comedy, drama

Runtime: 130 minutes

Plot: Everything Everywhere All at Once follows Evelyn Wang (Michelle Yeoh), a Chinese American woman who is struggling to run her family’s laundromat and care for her elderly father. One day, Evelyn is visited by a man named Waymond (Ke Huy Quan), who tells her that she is the only one who can save the multiverse from a powerful being known as Jobu Tupaki. Evelyn must learn to harness her own powers and travel through different universes in order to stop Jobu Tupaki and save the day.

Reception: Everything Everywhere All at Once has received widespread critical acclaim, with many calling it one of the best films of the year. The film has also been a commercial success, grossing over $100 million worldwide.



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