According to composer Justin Hurwitz, all the piano performance featured in the film was first recorded by pianist Randy Kerber during pre-production. Ryan Gosling then spent two hours a day, six days a week in piano lessons learning the music by heart. By the time filming had begun, Gosling was able to play all the piano sequences seen in the film without the use of a hand double or CGI.
The audition scene, where the casting director interrupts Mia's emotional performance to take a phone call, was actually inspired by one of Ryan Gosling's auditions in real life.
Emma Stone performed "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" live. She would decide when to switch from dialogue to singing. There was no pre-recorded track she was lip-syncing to. Justin Hurwitz, the song's composer, was in another room playing piano in her ear. Director Damien Chazelle said this was done so Emma could have more control of the scene.
The line in the film said by Sebastian, "that's L.A. They worship everything and they value nothing," was actually added in by Ryan Gosling himself, when he heard his real life girlfriend, Eva Mendes, mention it as a joke.
Emma Watson turned down the role of Mia due to scheduling conflicts with Beauty and the Beast (2017), while Ryan Gosling turned down the role of the Beast in that film to appear in this one. Coincidentally, both are musicals.
Because Damien Chazelle wanted to shoot the scene in the tradition of old musicals without cuts or editing, Ryan Gosling practiced playing the piano and played it himself in one take on his first day of shooting. Co-star John Legend, who is a classically trained pianist, says he is "jealous" of how quickly Gosling learned to play so well.
Sebastian's tip about amplifying a car fob's range by holding it under your chin does work, but is not expected to cause cancer. Most fobs use a frequency that resonates well with water, and the human brain is mostly water.
The crew had a limited time window of 30 minutes (director of photography Linus Sandgren said it was exactly between 7.20 - 7.50 pm) within two days to film the magic hour dusky purple twilight Hollywood Hills dance sequence. According to Damien Chazelle, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling managed five takes in two days, where after each take, they would go back to the starting point with the assistants wiping their sweat before starting the dance routine again. The fourth take is the one used in the final film.
The opening number, "Another Day of Sun," was filmed at an extremely hot temperature of 109 degrees F (43 degrees C) in two days. Each performer had two spare sets of costumes, stored in the cars, which they changed between takes. To maximize the filming time, choreographer Mandy Moore started rehearsals in May 2015 at the parking lot behind the production office. The sequence was mapped with miniature model cars and post it notes. During filming, as to avoid being accidentally filmed on the overhead camera, Moore was hidden beneath a car so that she could bark instructions to the dancers.
Although production was able to film the Griffith Park Observatory interior exhibits, they were not allowed to film in the planetarium, so the planetarium was recreated on a set. The vintage Minolta projector in the center of the planetarium was rented from the Planetarium and Projector Science Museum in Big Bear Lake, California to complete the set.
During the shoot Ryan Gosling's partner Eva Mendes was looking after their daughter, pregnant with their second child and caring for her brother, who underwent cancer treatment and later died. During his award acceptance speech at The 74th Golden Globe Awards (2017), Gosling tearfully acknowledged Mendes for her strength while he was preoccupied with dancing and music practice, and dedicated his award to her brother.
Prior to filming, Chazelle, Gosling and Stone visited Gene Kelly's widow and were able to look through many of Kelly's film memorabilia, including his leather-bound copy of the script for Singin' in the Rain (1952). At the end of the visit, Kelly's widow's dog escaped and Chazelle and Gosling ended up running through traffic to rescue the dog, with Chazelle affirming to Gosling, "We will not kill Gene Kelly's widow's dog." They were successful in rescuing the dog.
Only 30 dancers were used for the "Another Day of Sun" sequence. Most of the people and cars seen in the far background are CGI.
The express lane freeway ramp used for the opening number, Another Day Of Sun, is the same stretch of freeway as used for the iconic "bus jump" sequence from Speed (1994), where a 50-foot section of the ramp was digitally removed using CGI to create the gap the bus must jump over.
Upon its huge historic victory at The 74th Golden Globe Awards (2017), La La Land broke the record for the most Golden Globe Awards with seven wins (beating One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and Midnight Express (1978)), as well as the record with the most Golden Globe wins in every category in which it was nominated with seven nominations and seven wins (also besting One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest).
Mia's canary-yellow dress was originally used as a stand-by for dance rehearsals, but Emma Stone admired it so much that she was allowed to wear it on film.
The film's score was recorded in the same studio where Singin' in the Rain (1952), The Wizard of Oz (1939), and many other MGM musicals were scored.
In the film,Ryan Gosling plays a pianist and John Legend a guitarist. In real life, Legend is a classically trained pianist and Gosling a guitarist, both had to take training to play their new instruments.
Was at one point set to star Miles Teller and Emma Watson. Teller was dropped from the project in favor of Ryan Gosling, while Watson dropped out to pursue other projects. Teller previously starred in director Damien Chazelle's first feature Whiplash (2014).
Damien Chazelle and Justin Hurwitz came up with the idea of the film during their senior year at Harvard University in 2010 with Hurwitz writing the musical tracks and Chazelle on dialogue. Initially they found two financial backers and a producer for a budget of $1 million. However, the demand for a lot of script changes made them to drop the project off. After Whiplash (2014) found critical success, the project was resurrected with the studio increasing the budget to $30 million; this allowed the filmmakers to rent the Griffith Observatory for filming (a full day rental there costs $10 thousand).
It was after having seen Emma Stone as Sally Bowles in the 2014/15 Broadway production of "Cabaret" that Damien Chazelle decided to cast her in his film.
The plot has strong ties to Emma Stone's real-life history. The movie is based in LA, and Mia is discovered as a college dropout actress pursuing her dreams. Stone is a school dropout herself, moving to LA at the age of 15 in pursuit of an acting career.
Producer Marc Platt told a story that on the last day of filming the sun was setting and Damien Chazelle delayed announcing the wrap, instead grabbing a handheld camera to start filming the sunset. Platt realized that Chazelle did not want production to end. As darkness fell, Platt walked over to Chazelle to tell him they had nothing left to film without light, upon which Chazelle sadly agreed to call it a day.
The first movie shot entirely on film to earn an Academy Award for Best Cinematography since Inception (2010) won six years prior.
The production reopened two locations for filming: The Rialto Theatre in South Pasadena and the Angels Flight railway in downtown L.A. The Rialto has been closed since 2007 because it was unable to sustain itself as a single movie theatre. Angels Flight has been closed since 2013 over safety issues to the public. Filmmakers were able to get around this by stating that the railway was operating for a day to get it back into service while secretly filming the scene as a private function.
Damien Chazelle is the first director to win the Academy Award for Best Director for a musical film since Bob Fosse for Cabaret (1972). Chazelle is also the first director win the award for an original musical film since Vincente Minnelli for Gigi (1958).
Emma Stone performed nine takes of the scene "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)". Damien Chazelle chose take #2 for the movie.
This is the third movie co-starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. They previously worked together on Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011) and Gangster Squad (2013).
During the first 60 seconds of the movie when the camera pans showing the gridlocked cars, several of them can be seen having dents in hoods and roofs. Presumabely this is from dancing during rehearsals and earlier takes.
The intention of Damien Chazelle's was to make a more grounded musical while still paying homage to the classics.
The location on the Warner Brothers lot where Mia tells Sebastian that she hates jazz, is the precise shooting location for the album cover of Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here.
At the beginning of the film, the radio announcer heard in Ryan Gosling's car says, "three-time Oscar winner, including Shakespeare in Love (1998) ...." This is probably a reference to costume designer Sandy Powell, who won the Academy Awards for The Aviator (2004), The Young Victoria (2009), and Shakespeare in Love (1998). She was also nominated for two other films in 2015, Cinderella (2015) and Carol (2015).
Shares the record for most Oscar nominations (14) with Titanic (1997) and All About Eve (1950).La La Land (2016) is the only of the three to not win Best Picture.
With the exception of the opening song sequence ("Another Day of Sun"), Mia and Sebastian appear in every scene of this movie. This was also notable in director Damien Chazelle's previous film Whiplash (2014). Miles Teller's character, Andrew, is also in every scene of Whiplash.
Damian Chazelle is known for using long, uninterrupted takes in the film, but he also uses at least one sequence spooled backwards. In the last scene at the planetarium Gosling and Stone fall out of the air and perfectly into their seats, then kiss, and the camera zooms in for a closeup before the fade. The sequence was shot backwards: starting in black, zoom out to the kiss, telescope out to the two-shot, then wide shot, then Stone and Gosling are lifted out of their chairs, and then the entire sequence is run in reverse. That's how they land so perfectly and effortlessly in their seats: they don't "land" at all. They are already sitting, the zoom in is actually a zoom out, and so on.
When the time came to present Best Picture at The Oscars (2017) (the last award of the ceremony), presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were mistakenly handed the wrong envelope backstage. Beatty held a duplicate envelope for the category Best Actress in a Leading Role (which was announced just minutes before and was won by Emma Stone for La La Land (2016)) in his hands while presenting the nominees for Best Picture. When Beatty opened the envelope, apparently becoming aware of the mistake, he hesitated to announce a winner. He then handed the card to Dunaway who announced the heavily favored La La Land (2016) as the winner for Best Picture. As the TV cameras cut to the cheering audience, Beatty could be heard telling Dunaway "It says 'Emma Stone'" to which Dunaway replied "What?". The three nominated producers Jordan Horowitz, Marc Platt and Fred Berger as well as the whole cast and crew of the film went up on stage. Horowitz gave his thanks first, up next was Platt during whose speech the mistake became known when the ceremony's producers ran through the crowd on stage looking for the faulty as well as correct envelopes. It became clear that Horowitz was handed the wrong envelope by Beatty, which stated "Emma Stone, La La Land, Best Actress in a Leading Role", upon accepting the award, while the right envelope announcing Moonlight (2016) as the real Best Picture winner had to be brought on-stage from backstage and was finally handed to Beatty. The crowd on stage became slowly aware of the mistake and, despite being already aware of the not winning, Berger still gave a speech thanking his family and ending his speech by stating "We lost by the way, but, you know." Horowitz, also being told about the mistake, stepped up to the microphone again and finally revealed to the public that Moonlight (2016) actually had won, showing the correct Best Picture card to the audience as well as the camera. Beatty additionally cleared up that he was handed the wrong envelope and also announced Moonlight (2016) as winner of Best Picture. After this announcement, the cast and crew of La La Land (2016) slowly left the stage, while the three producers handed their awards over to the team from Moonlight (2016), which was able to finally give their speeches. While there already was an mix-up of winners at the Oscars in 1964, when Sammy Davis Jr. announced the winners for the two categories Scoring of Music (adaptation or treatment) and Music Score (substantially original) and was handed the envelopes for the two categories interchanged (eventually announcing John Addison as the winner for Best Scoring of Music when he wasn't even nominated in that category (André Previn was the actual winner, while Addison was the winner in the Music Score category)), Beatty and Dunaway's snafu remains the only time in Oscar history that a person or film was announced as a winner, when they actually weren't.
In the opening dance sequence on the freeway, they took both directions of the westbound carpool lane of the 105 to 110 freeway. Half of the cars are facing backwards in the scene.
Costume designer Mary Zophres said that her favorite piece of clothing worn by Emma Stone was the white dress seen toward the end of the film.
Both Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling were slated to act in Focus (2015) but dropped out. Their roles later went to Margot Robbie and Will Smith.
The origins of the title is because of two reasons. Firstly the city the film is set in is Los Angeles, or in short form: LA. Hence the city is evident in the title 'La La Land' Secondly the film challenges the stereotypical view of Hollywood by labeling it a dream. This is also seen through the abstract cinematography. "La-La Land" is also a long-standing nickname for Hollywood/L.A. because of the faux-reality feeling of a city filled with so many films & shows being made (constantly creating faux-realities), and because it is populated by so many actors and actresses there for the same reason: to fulfill a dream. It is often used to differentiate it from other places, "more" rooted in reality.
While Mia is writing her one woman play, the protagonist's name, Genevieve, is seen in the script. This is likely a reference to Catherine Deneuve's character in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), which was a great source of inspiration for this film.
The opening scene (including the CinemaScope logo) goes on with no noticeable cuts for about 6 minutes. It's actually three shots connected via quick pans.
Jason Fuchs, the guy playing the obnoxious writer at the pool party, is actually a successful franchise writer. He is one of the people behind Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012) and Wonder Woman (2017).
Linus Sandgren is the first Swedish cinematographer to win the Academy Award for Best Cinematography since Sven Nykvist for Fanny and Alexander (1982).
The film cast includes three Oscar winners: J.K. Simmons, John Legend, and Emma Stone; and one Oscar nominee: Ryan Gosling
Shot in 70 different locations in Los Angeles, mostly on location rather than on lots. [Variety 2017]
Damien Chazelle used to be in a band with the actor who plays 80's singer in the pool party, D.A. Wallach.
The phrase "pis y caca", that Ryan Gosling says twice, is Spanish for pee and feces, meaning that it is not important. Ryan Gosling's girlfriend, Eva Mendes, is a Spanish speaker.
Damien Chazelle rehearsed the opening number with the dancers by personally filming the sequence on his iPhone.
In the film, Ryan Gosling's character is referred to by other characters twice as a famous but deceased celebrity of 2016. Early in the film his sister calls him Ali, a reference to Muhammad Ali who died earlier June, 2016. Later, Mia yells out to him, calling him George Michael who died shortly after the film's release, on Christmas Day 2016.
The black sci-fi-ish keyboard that Sebastian plays on The Messengers' gig is in fact quite pricey. It's Roli Seaboard which costs about $5,000.
Damien Chazelle began work on La La Land (2016) in 2010, noting he was inspired by the French musical classic The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964). [Variety 2017]
The same street lamps are seen in multiple scenes including the road Emma and Ryan walk up to in their first dance sequence; the Pier at Hermosa Beach; outside the sound stage when Mia and Seb walk the movie lot (where they are stored outside the building showing they are merely props); and again when Mia runs out of the restaurant where she was dining with Greg, brother and wife and runs up the street to the Rialto. The same light also features prominently in the movie poster.
Second 2016 film release featuring a cover version of A-Ha's tune "Take On Me". The first: Sing Street (2016).
Emma Stone's character mentions the fact that there is a radio station named KJAZZ back home where she grew up. Emma Stone grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona. KJZZ (pronounced K-Jazz) is a radio station in the Phoenix market. KJAZZ 88.1 is also the Los Angeles jazz and blues station.
The very large pendulum seen in the observatory scene is called a Foucault pendulum, or Foucault's pendulum, named after the French physicist Léon Foucault. It is a simple device conceived as an experiment to demonstrate the rotation of the Earth. While it had long been known that the Earth rotates, the introduction of the Foucault pendulum in 1851 was the first simple proof of the rotation in an easy-to-see experiment. Today, Foucault pendulums are popular displays in science museums and universities.
When the camera focuses on the traffic scene before the opening number "Another Day of Sun" begins, one of the radio stations in the background plays a short snippet of a song from Damien Chazelle's directorial debut Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench (2009) called "It Happened at Dawn."
In both La La Land and Gangster Squad (2013), Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling have scenes involving the Griffith Observatory.
Ryan Gosling's character, Sebastian, teases his sister in the movie that he should set her up with a man that has a face tattoo. Coincidentally, in his role in The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) his character has a face tattoo. He chose this tattoo for his character in TPBtP. After the first day of shooting, he asked to remove the tattoo because of his embarrassment in choice he made for his character, in which case the director told him "absolutely not."
On their way through Downtown LA, Mia and Sebastian visit the food stalls of the Grand Central Market (317 S. Broadway), and among all the food places they choose Sarita's Pupuseria. This is an actual Salvadorean food stall. The scene, which only last 3 seconds, has brought international attention to the little place, now recognized in El Salvador, as a memorable place.
In the scene where Mia and Sebastian are walking through Warner Bros studio, they are stopped by an assistant director. This person was played by the real second assistant director Brett Robinson.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm responsible for tabulating the results, preparing awards envelopes and handing them to presenters apologized unreservedly to the makers of La La Land and Moonlight (2016), as well as everyone involved, after an envelope mix-up caused the former to be incorrectly announced as Best Picture: "We sincerely apologize to Moonlight, La La Land, Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for Best Picture. The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. [sic] We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred. We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC, and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation."
At Griffith Observatory, Mia is thrown a roll of paper pretending it's an Academy Award. Emma Stone actually won the Acadamy Award for her role in La La Land.
This will be the second movie that stars Finn Wittrock and Ryan Gosling. Both actors were in The Big Short (2015). Just as in that film, the two share no scenes together.
At one point in the film, Mia mentions to Sebastian how she could have been a lawyer. Emma Stone previously played a law school graduate from Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011), co-starring Ryan Gosling.
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
Emma Stone's Best Actress Oscar winning performance was the only nominee in the category in a Best Picture nominee that year.
Emma Stone and J.K. Simmons have both had previous roles in a Spider-Man film. Stone played Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) while Simmons played J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi's 'Spider-Man' trilogy.
Olivia Hamilton: Writer and director Damien Chazelle's girlfriend plays a customer requesting a refund for her pastry in the cafe in the first half of the film.
Anna Chazelle: Damien Chazelle's sister plays the casting director who operates the camera during Mia's callback. She also makes an appearance in the film's opening number, as the hula-hooper on top of a car on the freeway.
Damien Chazelle: [song] The song "When I Wake" by Justin Hurwitz was first featured in the movie Whiplash (2014), with the two main characters listening to the song while out on a date. The same thing happens in La La Land as the song is featured in the background while Sebastian and Mia are talking about jazz - exactly the same topic the two characters from Whiplash were discussing.
Damien Chazelle: [Simmons] J.K. Simmons plays a similarly negative character in this and Chazelle's previous film, Whiplash (2014). In the earlier film his character is a jazz obsessive, in this, a jazz hater.