Emmy-nominated stunt coordinator Timothy Eulich recently chatted with ProductionHUB about his work on SXSW's opening night film, A24's Everything Everywhere All at Once. The story follows Michelle Yeoh (Crazy Rich Asians) as an aging Chinese immigrant in her quest to save the world by exploring alternate universes and the different lives she could have led.
Timothy was also the stunt coordinator of Stranger Things season 4, The Sky is Everywhere and Swiss Army Man.
PH: Hi Timothy! Did you always know you wanted to be a stunt coordinator? How did you find yourself on that path?
Timothy Eulich: Hi! I grew up in suburban St. Louis MO training in martial arts and fencing, and always wanted to work in film and television. I thought I had to be an actor or director to do that; so I made short films with my friends (they were ALWAYS action films) and eventually went to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts to pursue acting. After graduating with my BFA, I met some stunt performers and everything clicked. I always knew there were stuntmen and women, but it never occurred to me that I could do that for a living. After that moment, I put all of my time and resources into pursuing a career as a stuntman, stunt coordinator and action storyteller. I was never content performing. I wanted to be behind the camera collaborating with the other creatives, designing and conceptualizing exciting and inventive action sequences. So far, so good!
PH: When starting out, what types of learnings/training did you have to do?
Timothy Eulich: Because of my background, I started out specializing in sword work and martial arts fights. I expanded on my skills with regular gymnastics training, stunt rigging and stunt driving amongst other things. The most valuable skill that I learned early on was cinematic storytelling. My friends and I would practice shooting and editing action sequences every week. We learned so much from these practice sessions, and 20 years later those friends have grown into the team that I regularly work with today.
PH: Was there anything about stunt coordinating that really surprised you at first? How did it exceed expectations?
Timothy Eulich: Cinematic stunts are a creative art form. As stunt coordinators, we are collaborating with directors, writers and other creative departments to compose kinetic symphonies that are pivotal to character development and storytelling. Having opportunities to work alongside industry legends who were highly influential in my decision to pursue the craft of stunt coordinating and action storytelling has been one of the greater joys and a source of gratitude.
PH: How did you get involved with Everything Everywhere All at Once? What drew you to this film?
Timothy Eulich: DANIELS! Any time DANIELS call, I'm there. I love working with those two, their producer Jonathan Wang and the team they bring together. I've been fortunate to have worked closely with them for about 10 years now. When I first read the script for Everything Everywhere All At Once, I was overwhelmed with excitement. There were so many fun action sequences that immediately jumped off the page. As a stunt coordinator it was a dream project to be involved with. And Michelle Yeoh in the leading role!? Just let me know what my call time is and I'll be there!
PH: What was the experience like collaborating with directors Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert to create visceral action scenes? How do these scenes rival those of the similar big-budget action films?
Timothy Eulich: They have a very unique vision, and within that vision they give their team a creative freedom to bring their own ideas to the party. Having that freedom gives you some ownership and a responsibility that makes you want to go above and beyond expectations. We spent a lot of time preparing these action scenes ahead of time. With the limited time we had to pull it all off, everything had to be creatively and meticulously mapped out before we got on set. Making it all happen was a massive team effort and collaboration from all departments. I'm very proud of the outcome of our collaborative work!
PH: You also paid tribute to classic Hong Kong-style action from filmmakers like the Shaw Brothers and Jackie Chan. How so?
Timothy Eulich: We grew up consuming those classic Hong Kong action films. We wanted to pay homage to those who influenced us, and evolve the style for todays audiences. The balletic and sometimes playful fight choreography is a clear tribute. We also incorporated a lot of wire work to accent certain movements and accentuate reactions.
PH: What goes into training actors for roles like this? You trained Michelle Yeoh for all of her stunts and action sequences in fewer than 3 days, right? How do you accomplish that so quickly?
Timothy Eulich: Typically you would need months of training to prepare an actor for this type of action. Michelle Yeoh is an outlier because of her legendary skills and performing background. She is the queen of action! Everyone else on this movie had previous experience as well, however, we had more time with them to train with our stunt team. The entire cast showed incredible willingness, dedication and determination to put in the hours of training to make this movie possible.
PH: As a stunt coordinator, are there certain challenges that you always find yourself overcoming? Can you talk about some of these?
Timothy Eulich: Time is never on your side. It doesn't matter how big the budget or how many resources you have on a show... you're always fighting the clock to make your days. The most important thing to keep in mind when you're up against the clock is safety. Safety is the one thing that cannot be rushed or overlooked. It is deeply important to me that everyone goes home to their families in one piece at the end of the day.
PH: How do you carefully determine what projects you work on? Is there a certain criteria you follow?
Timothy Eulich: There's a couple things I look for in taking on a new project. As a stunt coordinator, I love an opportunity to take on challenging and unique action sequences. Those action sequences, however, have to be earned in the story. They have to drive the story and have character developing moments. Action for the sake of action is just empty calories. I prefer to design action sequences that serve a greater story that needs to be told. It all starts with the story, and the story is what drives the action. The second part of my answer is... people. As your readers all know from working in this industry, we spend so much of our time on set. Often 12+ hours a day. We spend more time with the crew than we do our own families. It's important to me that my team and I are working with people that support and care for one another while we're putting in those long hours. We're all in this with a common goal... to make the best possible show we can. It's a lot more fun doing that with people who are kind to one another.
PH: You also worked on Stranger Things season 4, The Sky is Everywhere and Swiss Army Man. Can you share a bit of those experiences?
Timothy Eulich: Those were three very different experiences, but they all have something in common. They were created and directed by people with an outstanding and specific artistic vision. I loved having an opportunity to support and create with them.
PH: Any other upcoming projects you're excited to share?
Timothy Eulich: I coordinated the fights for Babylon, Damien Chazelle's new film that comes out later this year. I'm currently working on a new A24 project that I can't say too much about. We've been designing some very unique action sequences for that, and I can't wait to share more about it in the coming months!