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“Daniels” win for direction at Sundance

Emerson alumni 'Daniels' won a directing award at Sundance for their feature film, 'Swiss Army Man.'

Emerson College alumni Daniel Kwan ’10 and Daniel Scheinert ’09 got a little wind in their sails after the pair picked up an award at Sundance this year for their feature film about a man who rides a flatulent corpse off a desert island.

Swiss Army Man, which stars Paul Dano as the man who escapes his island prison, and Daniel Radcliffe as the gaseous cadaver, won for Directing in the “U.S. Dramatic” category.

The duo, who collectively go by “Daniels,” told Rolling Stone last week that the idea for Swiss Army Man started when Kwan told Scheinert, “We need to make a movie about a man who rides a farting corpse across the ocean.”

In a Sundance Film Festival video clip, Kwan describes the film as a cross between “a survival film, a buddy comedy, and a rom com.”

“And it’s sort of a musical,” Scheinert adds.

The film description on the Sundance Film Festival website is somewhat more delicate:

Hank, a hopeless man stranded in the wild, discovers a mysterious dead body. Together the two embark on an epic journey to get home. As Hank realizes the body is the key to his survival, this once-suicidal man is forced to convince a dead body that life is worth living.

“We always start off with, like, a really dumb idea that probably shouldn’t be made, and we kind of laugh it off when we first pitch it,” Kwan said in a Sundance Film Festival video clip. “You know, two weeks later, we find ourselves still thinking about it. Four years later, here we are.”

Kwan said in the video that he and Scheinert started working together while at Emerson College, teaching kids how to make videos in summer camp. The Daniels still bring that “summer camp” mentality to their work, he said.

Radcliffe, the British actor who rose to fame playing boy wizard Harry Potter in the phenomenally successful film franchise, told Rolling Stone he didn’t meet any resistance from his handlers when he decided to play a human inflatable raft.

“There wasn’t any pushback from ‘my team’ or whatever—the people I’m closest to know my tastes,” Radcliffe said in the article.

Prior to Swiss Army Man, the Daniels have directed a number of music videos for bands including Passion Pit, Foster the People, and The Shins, as well as commercials for Weetabix and Converse, and a number of film shorts.

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