Director Damien Chazelle Talks WHIPLASH, His Drumming Experience, LA LA LAND, His Neil Armstrong Biopic, and More

     October 7, 2014


One of my favorite films this year is writer/director Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash.  The film stars Miles Teller as a jazz drummer who aspires to greatness under a ruthless instructor, played brilliantly by J.K. Simmons.  While the film focuses on musicians, it’s really about anyone trying to become great at something and the cost of achieving said goal.  Trust me, it’s a great movie and something you should seek out this weekend when it opens in limited release.  For more on the film, read Matt’s review or watch the trailer.

A few days ago I landed a great interview with Damien Chazelle.  He talked about what 2014 has been like after playing film festivals around the world, drawing from his own drumming experiences, the universality of the film, working with Blumhouse Productions, and more.  In addition, Chazelle talked about his two upcoming projects, La La Land, and a Neil Armstrong biopic.  Starring Teller and Emma Watson, he says he’s shooting La La Land in the spring and described it as an old fashioned musical in the vein of Singin in the Rain but set in contemporary L.A.  He wants it to be “a big, cinemascope love letter to Los Angeles.”  Regarding his Neil Armstrong movie, he says it’s a mission movie that’s primarily about the landing and it covers six years in time, starting with Armstrong joining NASA and ending with the landing.  Hit the jump to watch.

whiplash-miles-teller-jk-simmonsDamien Chazelle Time Index:

  • :07 – What’s it been like for him to go from debuting at Sundance as an unknown to having all this attention on himself and the film?
  • 1:30 – Has he made any changes to the film since Sundance?  Says he had to change some of the sound, but nothing else.
  • 2:00 – Who’s the one person that he’s met since the debut that blew his mind?  Talks about meeting Mike Leigh and other people that he grew up studying and watching.
  • 3:37 – Talks about his history with drumming and drawing from his own experiences for the film.
  • 5:20 – The universality of the film and how it speaks to people who don’t play music.  Talks about the ambiguity of the story.
  • 6:55 – When was the moment he realized that Teller and Simmons were incredible working together?  Talks about how the two became close during production.
  • whiplash-miles-teller-28:24 – Talks about working with Blumhouse Productions and getting a high-quality film on a limited budget and very short time constraints.
  • 10:14 – Future projects.  Says La La Land is his next project, which he’s shooting in the spring.
  • 10:44 – Neil Armstrong biopic.  Says they’re getting into the writing right now.  Says it’s similar to Whiplash in that it focuses on a similarly driven and focused individual and how far one is willing to go in order to achieve greatness.
  • 11:45 – Says the Neil Armstrong film isn’t really a biopic, it’s a mission movie and is purely about the landing.  It covers six years, starts with him joining NASA and ends with the landing.
  • 13:01 – Talks La La Land.  Says he wrote it before Whiplash but he’s been tweaking it since casting the leads.  Describes it as an old fashioned musical in the vein of Singin in the Rain but set in contemporary L.A.  He wants it to be “a big, cinemascope love letter to Los Angeles.”




Damien Chazelle Whiplash La La Land Neil Armstrong Biopic

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