Walking the line between thought-provoking and mind-bending, A24’s Everything Everywhere All At Once leaped from genre to genre before landing a spot as the most talked-about film of 2023. This movie lived up to its title with a total takeover of this year’s Academy Awards, bringing home seven wins, including Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Film Editing.
Its incredible visuals and unforgettable story were supported by none other than Pond5’s massive library of surreal, dynamic, and zany stock media. Directors Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (a.k.a. “Daniels”) and A24’s talented editors used Pond5 footage to layer diverse visuals and keep pace with the movie’s swift journey through the expansive multiverse.
We had the privilege of speaking with three indispensable individuals involved in the process of sourcing and editing stock footage for Everything Everywhere All At Once:
- Aashish D’Mello, Assistant Editor
- Zekun Mao, Assistant Editor
- Carey Len Smith, Post-Production Producer
Here, they guide us through their stock footage selection, collaborative efforts during COVID-19 lockdowns, and the impact of Pond5’s creative content on the story.
License these images via A24/Moviestore/Shutterstock and A24/Moviestore/Shutterstock.
The Stock Content Behind the Multiverse
If you have yet to see the movie, it goes a little something like this: Seemingly average heroine Evelyn, portrayed by Best Actress winner Michelle Yeoh, gets swept up in an inter-dimensional battle where she must harness her powers to combat a very outlandish source of evil and save existence as she knows it.
The film’s concept is intricate and imaginative. Director Daniels and A24’s skilled editing team treated viewers of Everything Everywhere All At Once to a medley of stunning visuals, creative props, and special effects as the heroine discovers just how infinitesimal, yet immeasurable, we all truly are.
A few particular, widely recognizable scenes have stock footage from Pond5 cut throughout them. They are when:
“The craziest sequence [is] the splashing across multiple universes when Evelyn meets Jobu for the first time,” says D’Mello. He explains that his team had to find very unique pictures and footage to complement what Jobu talks about in this scene.
“We were able to find very specific pictures of vintage dogs, which looked good,” he says.
Mao agrees that they were able to source most of their creative stock needs, thanks to Daniels’ vision and Pond5’s library.
“I genuinely feel like Daniels really knows how to use stock footage, and how to make it benefit the film,” says Mao. “This use of stock looks natural in the film, rather than making you realize that stock footage was used. It was used for many scene backgrounds and in visual effects.”
Empowering Creative Collaboration
According to D’Mello, around 95% of the clips that weren’t originally shot came from Pond5.
“A lot of the time, what we were looking for was very specific,” says Mao. “We needed a stock website that had the widest reach of clips, in our opinion. That’s definitely one of the things that stood out to us about Pond5.”
The editing team, while very particular about their final clip selections, worked off of a huge list of potential video and image possibilities to include in the film, sourcing assets with help from their Pond5 Creative Partners and Pond5’s research service.
Len Smith explains that the team collaborated together on exploring, sourcing, and licensing a large amount of footage throughout the editing process.
The directors were closely involved in this work as well, since it was easy to pin-point perfect footage and share clips amongst the team. This collaboration included tons of new creative ideas and quickly changing requests from Daniels.
Luckily, Pond5’s usability and massive library helped the editing team remain agile throughout the production process.
“Daniels would just send us a link. If one of them liked a particular piece of stock footage, he would literally send us the link to it,” says Len Smith.
Ease of collaboration was especially important when making this film, as teams had to cross-collaborate while working remotely during lockdowns.
From Pond5 to the Silver Screen
Films like Everything Everywhere All At Once are achievable thanks to today’s technology. Collaborative coworking during the COVID-19 pandemic also contributed to its success. The editing team adapted their workflows during the lockdown to complete the film’s editing phase.
“We went into a remote workflow. We had to figure out how to push post-production forward,” explains Mao.
Unfortunately, teams were unable to shoot some of the footage they originally planned. Thankfully, though, stock footage was able to supplement those needs.
“Stock footage was pretty much our first choice, when it came to filling some of the holes,” she adds.
The editing team found stock content from Pond5 to be the best solution to challenges they faced during the early pandemic.
“Honestly, it’s becoming more and more fashionable (to use) more stock footage,” explains Len Smith, when describing the selection of videos their team accessed.
In fact, everything to do with editing came together so well that their team was able to attend the Academy Awards. The team interviewed here attended the Oscars alongside Film Editor Paul Rogers, who graciously invited them to the ceremony.
While there, they witnessed their work win the Academy Award for Best Film Editing. It was an achievement they didn’t expect, but were thrilled to receive after all of their hard work.
This was, in part, due to the team’s artistic skills, resourcefulness when collaborating remotely and sourcing stock footage clips, and creative visions, according to D’Mello.
Because the film was visually dynamic, complex, and oftentimes chaotic, their talents truly manifested success in the editing process. Telling a non-linear story is difficult enough, but crafting the masterpiece that is Everything Everywhere All At Once is truly an achievement that both audiences and the Academy Awards loved.
“We all wanted to make it work . . . and I think that’s what matters in the end. We all figured it out.”
License this cover image via A24/Moviestore/Shutterstock.