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.
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.
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.
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.
Prior to filming, Damien Chazelle, Ryan Gosling and Emma 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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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 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.
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).
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).
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, having moved to LA at the age of 15 in pursuit of an acting career.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Damien 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 Ryan Gosling and Emma 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.
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.
Emma Stone performed nine takes of the scene "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)". Damien Chazelle chose take #2 for the movie.
Damien Chazelle's intention 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).
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.
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 actual 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.
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).
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.
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 film cast includes three Oscar winners: J.K. Simmons, John Legend, and Emma Stone; and one Oscar nominee: Ryan Gosling
Linus Sandgren is the first Swedish cinematographer to win the Academy Award for Best Cinematography since Sven Nykvist for Fanny and Alexander (1982).
Shot in 70 different locations in Los Angeles, mostly on location rather than on lots. [Variety 2017]
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.
Damien Chazelle used to be in a band with the actor who plays 80's singer in the pool party, D.A. Wallach.
Damien Chazelle rehearsed the opening number with the dancers by personally filming the sequence on his iPhone.
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.
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.
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.
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]
Second 2016 film release featuring a cover version of A-Ha's tune "Take On Me". The first: Sing Street (2016).
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.
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.
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."
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.
In both La La Land and Gangster Squad (2013), Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling have scenes involving the Griffith Observatory.
Emma Stone's Best Actress Oscar winning performance was the only nominee in the category in a Best Picture nominee that year.
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.
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."
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."
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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.
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.
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.
The only Best Picture Oscar nominee that year to be also nominated for Best Song (2 nominations), and Best Costume Design.
For 2 minutes and 23 seconds, during the chaos that was the climax of the 2017 Academy Awards ceremony, " La La Land" was , very briefly, the Best Picture Oscar winner of 2016.
Emma Stone (Mia) & Sonoya Mizuno (Caitlin) also worked together on Maniac (2018) as Jules & Dr. Fujita respectively.
The version of the Summit logo was created specifically for the film La La Land. It echoes those from the golden age of Hollwyood.
CinemaScope was the first anamorphic format used in principlal photography and movie projection beginning in 1953. It was created by Spyros P. Skouras president of 20th Century Fox.
The opening scene of La La Land was shot in Los Angeles on the 105/110 cloverleaf freeway interchange. It is also known as the Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange and is 130 feet tall. When it was built, this freeway was the first to combine three differeent type of transportation movement. A level for cars, a level for buses and a level for light rail trains.
Right before the freeway interchange opened to the public in 1993, a key scene for the movie "Speed" with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves was filmed there. The E-Z pass over-ramp section of the freeway was shut down on Saturday and Sunday in August of 2015 to film the opening number entitled, "Traffic".
Dancers, choreographers and crew rehearsed the opening sequence for three months prior to filming and many of the cars needed to be reinforced to support the dancers.
Composer Justin Jurwitz wrote the music and collaborated with lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul to create the song for the opening sequence.
Director Damien Chazelle said of the inspiration for this opening number, "I always wanted to do a shot where you go from car to car with each radio playing a radically different kind of music. I wanted it to feel like a city bustling with music." and that he wanted to use the soundscape to "build an opening musical number and having a fantastical musical number arise out of a bunch of realistic city sounds."
Chazelle commented that the opening number was inspired by, "living in L.A. and being in traffic all the time, thinking about wanting to shoot myself or dance." and one of the inspirations for the opening sequence is the single seven and a half minute shot of traffic in Jean Luc Godard's 1967 film Weekend.
Chazelle says that the dance movement in the opening sequence was influenced by the opening of Jaques Demy's, The Young Girls of Rochefort and the athleticism of the opening dance number was inspired by Michael Kidd's choreography in the classic MGM musical, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.
Chazelle says that some of the challenges of filming the opening sequence included, the choreography which brought the dancers very close to the edge of the freeway ramp, the curved nature of the freeway was different from their opening sequence rehearsals in a flat parking lot and camera cranes almost colliding with dancers.
Composer Justin Hurwitz characterizes the opening song as a way to set up the personality of Los Angeles itself, a city of dreamers going for a shot at a future, "that may or may not happen." "Another Day of Sun" Lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul describe director Chazelle wanting them to capture the difference between L.A. and New York with the song.
Justin Paul explains that, "In New York, you gring and grind to pursue your dreams and...get up the next day and it's muddy and gross." Paul says that, in L.A., "You pursue your dream and you go to bed and get up the next day and it's a gorgeous day. It encourages you in one breath, and in another breath doesn't acknowledge that you just failed miserably."
There were over 100 cars and 90 singers and dancers in the opening scene. The sky was cloudy for the first half day of the prologue shoot and the crew had to wait until the sun finally came out to shoot.
In 2011, Gosling was named "one of the most exciting actors of his generation" by Manohla Dargis, critic for The New York Times.
Director Damien Chazelle said about La La Land, 'it was important to make a movie about dreamers, about two people who have these giant dreams that drive them, that bring them together but also tear them apart." Chazelle says La La Land deals with how you balance your relationship to your art with your relationships with other people.
Chazelle thinks that, "the musical as a genre is a great vehicle for expressing that balancing act between dreams and reality."
Director Chazelle says of actress Emma Stone, "Just the level of her acting in the song and dance scenes and the way that she expresses such gradations of emotion is amazing. I think she's one of the great actresses of our time and can create something without any dialogue, purely through her face, her mannerisms and body language."
According to Costume Designer Mary Zophres, Mia's barista blouse is based on a photo of Ingrid Bergman from the 1940's in which she wears something similar. She has collaborated with the Cohen Brothers on thirteen of their films including, The Big Lebowski, Fargo and No Country for Old Men.
In creating La La Land, director Chazelle wanted to see if he could make a film that channels the magic and energy of the most poignantly romantic French and American musicals of filmmaking's Golden Age into our more complicated and jaded age.
Chazelle wanted to explore in this movie how the use of color, sets, costumes and all the expressionistic elements of Old School movie making could tell a story that takes place in our times.
Influences for this movie include the films of French New Wave director Jaques Demy. Demy broke the hyper-serious mold of 1960's movie making with candy colored musicals such as Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The Young Girls of Rochefort and A Room In Town. According to Chazelle, " Jaques Demy is probably the single biggest influence not just on this movie but on everything I've done or wanted to do. There is no more formative movie for me than The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."
Emma Stone won the Academy Award® for Best Actress for her portrayal of Mia in La La Land. Stone was previously nominated for an Academy Award ® as Best Supporting actress for her performance in the film, Birdman. She was six years old when she gave her first public performance at school in a Thanksgiving-themed musical entitled, No Turkey for Perky. She is a native of Arizona.
According to the film's producers, Stone brought a nuanced Everywoman relatablility to the character of Mia. Producer Jordan Horowitz on Emma Stone, "She simultaneously brings the quality of an enormous movie star yet she feels so human and authentic. It's very easy to fall in love with her and also to see inside her emotions."
Actor Ryan Gosling on Emma Stone: "She's one of a kind and brings that same quality to Mia. You feel for Mia as someone who has been working in L.A., trying to catch a break, because you see how special and unique she is." Director Chazelle says about Stone, "Emma's very modern, but there's a timelessness about her too."
The interiors of Mia's apartment were shot at The Langham Apartments in Los Angeles. The Langham, a 180 room apartment building, opened in 1927 offering a restaurant, beauty salon, barber shop, billiard room and commissary. The showstopper at the Langham in 1927 was the country's first rooftop swimming pool.
Lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul's prior theatrical credits include, A Christmas Story, Dogfight, James and the Giant Peach. La La Land was their first chance to create a full-scale lyrical book for the screen. In most cases the melodies for the songs were set prior to Pasek and Paul's creation of the lyrics. Their goal was to weave Sebastian and Mia's personas into their songs.
Director Damien Chazelle envisioned the production numbers in the film as echoing the imagination and narrative freedom associated with the mid century movie musicals but with the energy and pace that speaks to the iPhone and YouTube generation.
Costume Desinger Mary Zophres revealed that Emma's blue dress was inspired by an Atelier Versace gown the actress wore to promote Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Chazelle and Choreographer Mandy Moore wanted to build the choreography into the storytelling by breaking the fourth wall to draw the audience in but without disrupting the dream-like flow of the story. Mandy Moore is a two-time Emmy® Award winner for her groundbreaking work on the reality TV show, "So You Think You Can Dance."
The film makes visual allusions to classic films such as Broadway Melody of 1940, Singin' in the Rain and An American in Paris. Director Chazelle considers An American in Paris as an example of how daring vintage musicals were and used it as a standard by which he made his film.
The exteriors of Mia's apartment were shot at the Rose Tower Apartments in Long Beach. The Rose Tower opened in 1928 as the El Cordova designed by architect George D. Riddle in the Spanish Colonial Revival style. In 2007 the homeowners of the Rose Tower completely restored it to its 1920's heyday.
In the montage of neon signs several from classic Hollywood's glamour era establishments can be seen including the Formosa Café, which was patronized by Humphry Bogart and Clark Gable as it was across the street from a Warner Bros. lot. Musso & Frank Grill which opened in 1919 and is the oldest restaurant in Hollywood. The Knickerbocker Hotel which dates back to 1929 but is where, in 1968, Graham Nash was living when Cass Elliot introduced him to Stephen Stills and David Crosby. The Roxy Theater in West Hollywood which is where Paul Reubens introduced his Pee-Wee Herman character in 1981.
Director Damien Chazelle conceived of the film when he was a student at Harvard University with classmate Justin Hurwitz. He wrote the screenplay for La La Land in 2010 but did not immediately find a studio willing to finance the production without any changes. Following his 2014 film, Whiplash, Summit Entertainment picked up the project.
La La Land premiered at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival on August 31, 2016. The film tied the record for most Academy Award® nominations with 14. The only other films that have received 14 nominations include All About Eve (1950) and Titanic (1997). La La Land won six Academy Awards including Best Director, Best Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Original Song ("City of Stars") and Best Production Design.
La La Land was shot on celluloid film with Panavision equipment in the widescreen format but not actual CinemaScope as that technology is no longer available.
Emma Stone studied Pom dancing as a child as well as a year of ballet. Stone moved to Hollywood from Arizona at age 15 with her mother and struggled to get an audition, often being dismissed after saying just a line or two. She reportedly drew on these experiences for her character Mia in the film.
The street location where this was shot is near the intersection of Franklin and Argyle in Hollywood. Nearby Hollywood landmarks include The Magic Castle, the Chateau Elysee, a former apartment house for movie stars and the Shakespeare Bridge. In the background can be seen the Castle Argyle Arms. Built in 1928, it housed Hollywood luminaries such as Clark Gable, Howard Hughes, Ronald Reagan and Cecil B. DeMille during it's heyday.
Mia walks past a mural called "You Are the Star" in this scene. In it, vintage Hollywood celebrities sit in a movie theater appearing to watch passersby as if they are the stars of a film. The mural was painted in 1983 by Thomas Suriya.
Costume Designer Mary Zophres's design for the character of Mia included starting her off in dresses with vibrant colors to emphasize the girlishness of her character. As Mia becomes more mature and focused on her work, the color becomes more desaturated to the point where she wears black and white during her one woman show.
At age 14, Emma Stone made a pitch to her parents to allow her to become a professional actor. In order to convince her parents, Stone made a power point presentation called "Project Hollywood". Stone's parents decided to allow her to go for her dream and she and her mother moved to Los Angeles in 2004 so she could audition for TV pilot season.
Ryan Gosling has been in two movies with Emma Stone prior to La La Land; Crazy Stupid Love (2011) and Gangster Squad (2013).
The Retro Dairy Mart was originally an Alta Dena drive through grocery store popular in the 1950's. Van Beek's Tapas and Tunes is in reality the original modern style Magnolia Theater in Burbank. It later became Evergreen Recording Studios whose clients included Barbra Streisand, Neil Diamond and Frank Sinatra.
Miles Teller, star of director Chazelle's film Whiplash was originally considered for the part of Sebastian. Once Gosling was cast, director Chazelle decided to make the characters somewhat older with experience in struggling to make their dreams come true.
For Ryan's costumes, nearly all of the clothing he wears in the film was made to order.
Gosling brought some of his personal experience as an aspiring artist to the film. While Gosling was performing a crying scene for an audition on another film, the casting director took a phone call. This bit was used for the Mia character in the film.
Actress Rosemarie DeWitt plays Sebastian's sister Laura. She has also been nominated for multiple awards for her performance as 'Rachel' in Rachel Getting Maried. DeWitt also played 'Midge Daniels' in the TV series Mad Men.
Ryan Gosling is a fan of movie musicals from the Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelly era.
Gosling had no prior experience playing the piano before this film. He had to learn how to play all of the piano pieces in the film as no hand models were used.
Actor J.K Simmons plays the Boss at Liptons. He starred in director Chazelle's previous movie, "Whiplash." Simmons winning the Best Supporting Actor trophy at the Academy Awards® in 2015. He also is known for playing J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy.
The Interiors of "Lipton's" were shot at The Smokehouse restaurant in Burbank. The Smokehouse was originally a restaurant owned by actor Danny Kaye called The Red Coach Inn directly across from the Warner Bros. studio lot. In 1955 it was purchased by William Wagner and Wayne McAllister and rebuilt to reflect the rustic timber style in which it appears today. In 1956, Jack Paar broadcast the Tonight Show from the restaurant and celebrity client George Clooney has a plaque on his favorite booth.
Gosling's character Sebastian is playing the Christmas song, "Deck the Halls" in the scene at the restaurant. This melody is Welsh and dates back to the 16th century where it was part of a winter carol called "Nos Galan". The lyrics are English and date to 1862.
Director Damien Chazelle's first film was, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench. The film was a romance told through song and dance, a re-envisioning of the retro MGM musical. Chazelle made this film as his Harvard senior thesis in 2009. The composer of this film was Harvard classmate Justin Hurwitz who also did the score for La La Land. Hurwitz wrote the music for Whiplash as well and Chazelle says, he hopes Justin writes the music for everything that he does.
For Hurwitz the push and pull between the characters of Sebastian and Mia was the driving force of his score. Hurwitz wove the exhilaration of romantic love and the haunting heartbreak of life in the creative field into the music for the score.
Chazelle says that before he wrote any dialogue, Justin was working out the musical theme of the film. While Chazelle was editing the film, Hurwitz was working on the score across the hall.
Chazelle wanted to embrace two traditions with his casting of the lead actors. One side was to embrace the old Hollywood screen couplings of Bogart and Bacall, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Myrna Loy and Dick Powell. These old school actors take on different roles but always project a unique persona. At the same time Chazelle wanted Gosling and Stone's performances to feel surprising and even subversive.
Chazelle also was taken by the concept that you meet someone in your life who transforms you. That sets you on a path toward being who you dreamed you could be. And yet you must travel that path alone. Chazelle finds that concept beautiful and heartbreaking and ultimately that's what he wanted the move to be about.
Principal photography on the film began on August 10, 2015. Filming took place in more than 60 locations in and near Los Angeles. It took 40 days to complete shooting, with the production wrapping in mid-September 2015.
Many of Mia's dresses have a vintage appeal in keeping with the tone of the film. Costume designer Zophres found some of the dresses Mia wears in the film in vintage clothing stores in the L.A. area.
Zophres saw Emma Stone wearing a yellow dress during a red carpet appearance and thought she looked stunning. This led to her dressing Mia in yellow for the film's signature "Duet" dance sequence.
Musician D.A. Wallach plays the 80's singer in Seb's band. While at Harvard, Wallach auditioned against director Damien Chazelle for the role of drummer in Justin Hurwitz's band. Chazelle won and Wallach became lead singer of the band. Wallach is former lead singer of the group Chester French. He is now a solo artist on Harvest Records.
The costume Sebastian wears while playing "I Ran (So Far Away)" is a very close copy of the one worn by Flock of Seagulls lead singer, keyboardist and guitarist Mike Score.
One of Emma Stone's favorite numbers in the film is "Duet". She says this is where their characters connect in a real way for the first time. Stone says that she, Ryan and Chazelle felt it was important that you feel the joyous moment when the pair literally fall into step with one another.
Emma Stone spent two months prior to production rehearsing every day with choreographer Mandy Moore.
This scene was shot on Mount Hollywood drive next to Griffith Park in Los Angeles. The crew had just half an hour each day over five days to shoot the scene at sunset. The actors managed to do five takes each night with the footage from all nights being used to cut the sequence. While filming this scene, Emma fell over the back of the park bench. She got right up and continued with the scene. "Damien didn't use that take,' she laughingly reports.
Visuals from this scene were used for the North American one-sheet poster of the film.
While it references many films, La La Land also is influenced by painters such as Ed Ruscha and David Hockney who also explored the mythology of L.A. The French Fauvist painter Raoul Duffy, known for his ecstatic washes of color, is also cited as a visual influence on the film.
Chazelle felt there had to be a naturalism to the dancing. He told choreographer Mandy Moore that in this movie dancing, singing and acting are all just one thing. Chazelle told Moore "he wanted the audience to feel that Sebastian and Mia are real people who, for just a moment, transcend the confines of everyday life."
Neither Gosling nor Stone were professionally trained dancers. Moore trained both of them herself in her own personal boot camp prior to filming.
Director Chazelle used filmmaker Max Ophuls as a model for how he would move the camera in La La Land. Ophuls is considered one of the masters of camera movement in cinema history. As Chazelle describes it, "the idea is to have a camera that in itself feels melodic, feels like a dancer" the camera "never gets in the way of the dancing onscreen but becomes part of the choreography nonetheless."
The locations in the film switch between 'of the moment' and bygone eras in the film. Chazelle's notion was to capitalize on the timelessness inherent in the city itself. Production designer David Wasco said they wanted to look at the city of Los Angeles anew with a visually inventive director.
Emma Stone first met director Chazelle in 2014 while she was performing on Broadway in Cabaret. The actress had a cold the night they met when the director outlined his idea for the film to her. Stone had confidence from performing in Cabaret so that she felt she could handle the film's dance numbers. Stone accepted Chazelle's offer to play Mia because he was so passionate about the project.
As Mia and Sebastien enter the sound stage, the street lights that decorate a later scene on the Hermosa Beach pier are visible.
The Warner Bros, back lot has been the setting for many a classic movie and TV show. Including the exterior of the Central Perk on the TV show Friends. It was also where scenes were shot from National Lampoon's Vacation, Blade Runner and Batman.
Stone and Gosling walk by Stage 16 on the lot which is where scenes from the movies Dunkirk and The Goonies were filmed.
The Jazz Club sequence was filmed at The Lighthouse Café in Hermosa Beach, California. The cast and crew filmed there for four days in the summer of 2015. The Lighthouse has been a home for jazz since it opened in 1949. Famous Jazz musicians who've performed there include; Chet Baker, Miles Davis, Art Blakey and Cannonball Adderley. Howard Rumsey owned The Lighthouse Café and brought jazz there from 1949 through 1960 led by Howard Rumsey's Lighthouse All-Stars. The set designers didn't change much of the interior. They added a stained glass on the front window and the circular stained glass lighthouse image behind the piano.
Of Gosling's character Sebastian, producer Fred Berger notes: "Ryan portrays Sebastian as a man of real determination. That's what feeds his stubbornness to stay in L.A. and to say I'm going to make it here as the jazz performer that I am on my terms. Sebastian's stubbornness is not born out of ego or any abrasive quality. It's borne out of real conviction and passion which Ryan infuses into the character so beautifully."
Gosling says of his character Sebastian, "His heroes were born 70 years ago, and in this day and age, a great piano player playing real jazz is destined to work in bars where people don't even stop their conversations to listen to you. So how much do you compromise to be the artist you want to be? Gosling continues, I think Sebastian is struggling with the difference between being a purist and being a snob." "Ultimately", Gosling continues, "Sebastian faces the question lots of creative people are faced with: do I keep pursuing this work that actually nourishes me or do I have to accept that this is just a job and I have to pay the bills?"
This scene was actually filmed in the back alley behind the Lighthouse Café. On any given day, you can see tourists and La La Land aficionados taking their photo beneath the neon sign.
This scene was filmed on the Hermosa Beach pier which is a few hundred feet from the Lighthouse Café. The streetlights were added by the film's production design team to the pier for filming. Due to the popularity of the film, the City of Hermosa Beach is reviewing a plan to add the lights as a permanent fixture to the pier.
The song, "City of Stars" by Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul won the Academy Award® for Best Original Song at the 89th awards ceremony in 2017.
April 25, 2017 was officially designated 'La La Land" day in Los Angeles. A historic location plaque with the date and details of the movie's filming was installed next to the Hermosa Beach pier.
Ryan Gosling on Emma Stone: "She's one-of-a-kind, and brings the same quality to Mia. But you also see that Mia's a bit different and not necessarily what these people in the entertainment world are looking for - where they often want people who are interchangeable with one another. She's just not that."
The Rialto Theater is in Pasadena California. Its grand opening was on October 17, 1925 in which the Universal comedy, What Happened to Jones premiered.
Actor Finn Wittrock plays "Greg". He was nominated for a Gold Derby Award Ensemble Cast for La La Land as well as for his work in The Big Short the previous year.
Classic movie posters adorn the marquee at the Rialto featuring some of the golden age of Hollywood's brightest stars including, Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes in A Farewell to Arms.
Producer Marc Platt says of Emma Stone's performance, "Not everyone has the dream of being an actress but the way Emma plays Mia transcends that. You feel Mia's dreams could be anybody's dream, whatever you want in life." Jordan Horowitz said on Stone: "She made everything about her character feel like it had been tailored to her."
Stone says of her character, "Mia's driven by something that maybe she doesn't completely understand. She wants to be an artist in a city of so many people who seem to be just like her." Stone continues: "Mia feels that there's something special inside her but she doesn't quite know what it is. I could relate to her being an actress and going on auditions but even more so, there was something so exciting about taking her into this musical world where you can suddenly spin down the street or burst into song. That was a wonderful challenge."
The 1,200 seat Rialto theater was built with a stage that was 30 feet deep in order to accommodate live Vaudeville acts. Other movies that have shot in the Rialto theater include, The Rocketeer, The Player, Nightmare on Elm Street, part 4 and Scream 2.
Rebel Without a Cause was released in 1955 and was the movie that made a star out of James Dean. The movie has a famous set piece at the Griffith Observatory which Mia and Sebastian visit later in the film. James Dean starred in just three feature films before dying in a car accident on September 30, 1955 at age 24. Rebel Without a Cause was directed by Nicholas Ray who also directed the film, In a Lonely Place starring Humphrey Bogart as a struggling screenwriter chasing his dreams in Hollywood.
The Observatory was built in 1935 and named after Griffith Jenkins Griffith. Griffith came to Los Angeles from Wales in 1881 and, with riches from silver mining and real estate and donated the land and money to fulfill his dream of making astronomy available to all. The art deco style building was overseen by architects John Austin and Frederick Ashley.
Nikola Tesla designed the Tesla Coil which is used to produce high-voltage, low-current, high frequency alternating-current electricity. Tesla is also renown for helping to design the induction motor, the rotating magnetic field and the torpedo.
The murals on the ceiling of the observatory were painted by muralist, film producer and novelist Hugo Ballin. The ceiling mural depicts the various stories that people have used to explain what we see in the sky from the zodiac, to ancient Greek and Roman legends to a woman holding the Star of Bethlehem. Other murals show how science and engineering changed through history including aeronautics, navigation, metallurgy, time, geology and biology among others.
Seen here is the Foucault Pendulum, one of the largest such devises in the world. The bronze ball suspended by cable swings was designed to demonstrate the rotation of the earth.
The Griffith observatory has two telescopes including a 12-inch Zeiss refracting telescope in the east dome and a triple-beam ceolostat (solar telescope) in the west dome. The planetarium theater was renovated in 1964 and a Mark IV Zeiss projector installed. A high resolution video projected by a state of the art laser system is featured in the planetarium. It shows a night sky simulation as well as a 30-minute program.
Choreographer Mandy Moore calls the planetarium scene 'the heart of the film'. Moore said the sequence was originally intended to take place underwater before it was decided to move it into the sky.
The sequence which Moore dubs 'the gravity free dance' was one in which 'we wanted the audience to feel Sebastian and Mia fall into the this beautiful waltz because they have no other choice but to dance in that moment." According to Chazelle, the coupling of Stone and Gosling was alchemical. He says, "there's a shorthand between Ryan and Emma, not just in person but on screen."
Chazelle: They do a very difficult thing in this movie, which is to ground the most undgrounded of genres."
The director notes: It takes actors like Ryan and Emma to establish this story inside real lives and make it human.
Chazelle: "There are very few people who can be as in the moment while still feeling like big, movie stars in the way the film needed."
Emma Stone on the relationship between Mia and Sebastian: "I think Mia and Sebastian inspire each other to do things differently. They are both in a rut when they meet and feeling creatively stalled. But the beautiful thing Sebastian does for her is ask, 'why don't you create your own stories to tell as an actress?' I think Mia needs that because she's forgotten she even has that ability. Mia opens Sebastian up to the idea that maybe he can expand and pursue his art in previously unexplored ways."
In this montage locations can be seen such as Fern Dell Park in Los Angeles, the Colorao Street Bridge, Grand Central Market in downtown Los Angeles and the Hermosa Beach pier.
The Watts Towers were built by Italian immigrant Simon Rodia between 1921 and 1955. He had no helpers, no machinery or scaffolding as he built the structure completely on his own.
The Angels Flight funicular railway in downtown Los Angeles opened in 1901 but closed in 1969. It reopened briefly in the early 2000's but closed again soon after. The city opened it up for one day so the film's producers could shoot there.
West Coast Jazz was represented at The Lighthouse in the 1950's when Shorty Rogers, Bud Shank, Shelly Manne and Max Roache all played in the club. Several jazz greats also made live recordings in The Lighthouse including Art Pepper, Cannonball Adderley, Art Blakey, Elvin Jones. Mose Allison.
Stone reveals that perfection wasn't the goal when it came to dance moves. "Our characters are struggling artists, so were never asked to be incredibly brilliant dancers and singers." Damien Chazelle wanted Mia and Sebastian's relationship to feel alive and raw in a certain way, even though they were part of these cinematic dance numbers. He welcomed the little flaws and flubs as a way to make it more real.
Keith is portrayed by ten-time GRAMMY® winner and Academy Award® winning singer songwriter John Legend. Legend jumped at the chance to appear in the film saying, "I thought this would be a great opportunity to transition into doing more acting in a role that feels pretty familiar to what I already do for a living, which is make music." Also fascinating to Legend was the conflict between Keith and Sebastian which is how one adapts to a rapidly changing culture. Legend also said "Keith's philosophy is let's not try and preserve something that happened 50 years ago; let's take what we've learned and make something for these times."
Charlie Parker (1920-1955) invented along with Dizzie Gillespie, a musical style called bop or bebop. Legend has it that Charlie Parker got the nickname 'Bird" because it was short for "Yardbird" and a) he was free as a bird or b) he hit a chicken (aka Yardbird) by accident while driving on tour with his band. The Birdland club in New York was named in honor of Charlie Parker. This is where he made his last public performance in 1955 a week before he died.
Parker recorded for three different labels during his career, Dial (1945-1948), Savoy Records (1948) and Mercury. Parker played in various bands during his career including, Buster Professor Smith's band, Harlan Leonard's Rockets and The Billy Eckstine band.
For John Legend, the chance to work with Ryan Gosling was a thrill. "Ryan is one of the best actors working right now, so I came into it with a real humility", he said. Legend says "Gosling was very helpful and supportive. He really encouraged me to feel 'OK I can do this.'"
The process of writing "Start a Fire" furthered Legend's understanding of the characters. "What was fun is that we get to see the song morph as Sebastian and Keith figure out what kind of music they want to make." Legend says "it presents Sebastian with a quandry of how 'pop' he's willing to get and how far he's willing to go from the music that he feels moved to play." The song was regulatory for Gosling. He said, "For John to bring in his contemporary take was really a hard thing to do. Sonically and energetically it could have really clashed with the kind of music the movie is celebrating. Instead, what John brought was so good that it just makes my character's dilemma that much more complicated."
Stone's rendition of "City of Stars" was performed live on set in order to keep her completely present and in the moment. Stone says, 'it was challenging but it was also something I felt really strongly about." The actress says she had just done Caberet on Broadway and saw the way a live performance adds something. Even if your voice breaks or you're a bit out of tune, something irreplaceable is lent to the performance.
Justin Hurwitz comments that "City of Stars" was Mia and Sabatian's first duet. (You get) "the giggling and all other nuances when you record vocals that way. You pick up all the little smacks of the lips and things like that, that you don't get when you record vocals in a music studio months earlier and then have them lip sync on set."
Hurwitz composed "City of Stars" from an emotional place. He says it goes back and forth between cadencing in major and cadencing in minor because he thinks that is what the song is about. You have these great moments and then you have these less great moments in life.
This is the only scene in the movie where Ryan Gosling has to both sing and play piano.
To help his cast and crew get inspired, Chazelle held screenings every Friday night during production of classical films that had inspired him for La La Land. The films he screened included; The Umbrellas of Chergourg, Singin' In the Rain, Top Hat and Boogie Nights.
According to Costume designer Mary Zophres, Mia and Sebastian have over fifty costume changes apiece. Zophres coordinated closely with cinematographer Linus Sandgren and Production Designer David Wasco among others to create a world in which the costumes harmonize with the overall design of the film.
On the first day, Zophres and Chazelle went through the movie scene by scene discussing color palettes. For Sebastian, Zophres wanted to emphasize the elegant with a shot of the offbeat for his costumes. Zophres continues, "His look is not necessarily trendy. It's a look you feel he has developed and curated. Sebastian isn't a guy you see wearing a t-shirt. Instead he has a very specific kind of slim silhouette that speaks to a respect for tradition and formality."
The piano music in the film was pre-recorded by jazz musician Randy Kerber with Gosling playing over top of the track.
Legend says Chazielle's main instruction for the song, "Start a Fire" was to make it a fun song that you can see as a single but still has some jazz influence. Legend says "writing the song was like threading the needle because you don't want it to be so bad that its embarrassing but you want it to be something that Sebastian wouldn't want to make. Something he wouldn't be proud of."
The Messengers performance was shot inside the El Rey Theater on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. It was built in 1936 and designed in a style known as Zig Zag Moderne. During the 1940's the El Rey was part of the Fox west coast theater chain. In the 1970's the Chippendales Dancers took up residence there. The El Rey is currently a live music and special events venue.
The futuristic keyboard Gosling uses during the Messengers performances is a Seaboard Grand synthesizer, invented in 2013 by Roland Lamb, founder of ROLI, a music technology company in the UK. The Seaborad Grand allows the pianist to play between the keys or notes on a regular piano, simulating the increased palette that a wind or string instrument might have. Instead of keys, the surface is silicon and by pressing harder, the musician can deepened the sound and bend the pitch. La La Land's Executive Music producer Marius De Vries knew of the instrument and suggested it for Sebastian to use in the Messengers performances.
Mia eats in and then walks through L.A.'s New Chinatown which was founded in 1938. The original Chinatown was founded about a mile away in 1870 and had its heyday between 1890 and 1910.
Damien Chazelle collaborated intently with cinematographer Linus Sandgren for the movie. Sandgren is known for his work with David O. Russell on American Hustle and Joy. Jordan Hurwitz comments: "The camera had to have a very specific energy in this film...and we knew Linus had the skills to bring that." Sundgren notes: "Damien wanted to make an old-fashioned film in a very modern way where the camera is more fluid." There were many technical challenges. They shot on 4-perf anamorphic 35mm film. This meant the camera had to be reloaded with film every ten minutes. On top of that Chazelle wanted to shoot big production numbers in single takes, what Sundgren calls "Unbroken reality".
Chazelle likes to draw on film history without ever being derivative and he and Sandgren were saying, "how can we push this idea as far as it can go? That's how they went to a place we haven't seen before."
Damien also wanted everything to happen in camera and not by adding effects in post production. This took a lot of planning. In terms of the aspect ratio, the size of the frame, Chazelle was going for something extremely anamorphic to give the film the extra scope of the classic older films. Sundgren had to have Panavision build new lenses for the film which he felt really added to the spirit of the film. Sundgren also used colored lights to enhance the film's palette of cool blues, greens and pinks.
Chazelle wanted to make Los Angeles one of the leading characters in the film. In its film history, Los Angeles has been a noir backdrop, a beach and bikini paradise and a dystopian setting...Chazelle however wanted to explore L.A. as a Muse, an in motion canvas of fateful encounters, endless traffic and endless striving where everyone chases their dreams at times futiley and at others transformationally. Given all of these qualities, Chazelle calls L.A. a widescreen city. That is why he chose to shoot wide screen and make the city as big and spectacular as a classic Hollywood musical.
Producer Marc Platt says, "La La Land is absolutely a love letter to the city. The way the film mixes two people leading very hip, modern lives with all these iconic Hollywood locales is unique. You get a feeling both of the romantic fantasy of the city and its grounding in real lives."
Several of Stone's outfits are replicas of iconic dresses such as the green dress Mia wears on her first date with Sebastian which was modeled on a Judy Garland dress from the film A Star Is Born (1954). The black trousers were reminiscent of Audrey Hepburn's look in Funny Face (1957).
This dinner/argument scene was reportedly the one that was most rewritten. Gosling and Stone also helped to craft the dialogue to create one of the most realistic scenes in a movie filled with fantasy sequences.
The exterior of Club Fais Do-Do can be seen here. It was a famous underground club in the early 1960's where the likes of John Coltrane, Sam Cooke and Billy Preston performed.
The Messengers rehearsal sessions including this scene, were shot in East-West studios in Hollywood. The particular room where this scene was shot is also where Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys recorded their classic album, Pet Sounds. Other renown music recorded in this building includes; The Mamas and the Papad California Dreamin', The Beach Boys California Girls, Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On and U2's Rattle and Hum.
When Damien Chazelle was first talking to investors about financing La La Land, someone asked that the Sebastian character be changed from a jazz pianist to a rock musician. This same financier also asked that the bittersweet ending of the story be dropped. Chazelle refused to change these elements and moved on.
Miles Anderson was born in Rhodesia, Africa which is now known as Zimbabwe. Anderson is known mainly for his television performances in Britain. He played Colonel Aidan Dempsey in ITV's Ultimate Force and Roger O'Neill in House of Cards.
The location where Mia performs her one woman show was shot in The Hayworth Theatre on Wilshire boulevard in Los Angeles. It opened in 1925 as the Masque theater and was designed by the same architect who designed the El Capitan and Mayan theaters in Los Angeles. By 1950 the Hayworth was known as The Vagabond Theater, an art house and revival theater that screened many of the movies which inspired Damien Chazelle to make La La Land.
Emma Watson was set to star as Mia but dropped out because of a commitment to the musical adaption of Beauty and the Beast.
Emma Stone has loved musicals as a child ever since she saw Les Miserables when she was eight. Stone says that "bursting into song has always been a dream of mine." Stone's favorite film is Charlie Chaplin's 1931 bittersweet comedy City Lights. Some of Emma Stone's early work included the voice of a dog on The Suite Life of Zach and Cody.
Chazelle's original screenplay for La La Land was set in Boston in which the iconic Griffith Observatory scene was set in Boston's Museum of Science.
Stone's given name is 'Emily' but she changed it to 'Emma" when she joined the Screen Actors Guild and learned there was another Emily Stone listed.
The film's Executive Music Producer Marius de Vries has been involved in some of the most culture defining recordings and soundtracks of the last 20 years. Marius music directed Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge which resulted in a GRAMMY®. Marius also composed the score for Stephan Elliott's, Priscilla Queen of the Desert.
Executive Music Producer Marius de Vries says of the engagement party song that they wanted to make use of their song melodies as underscore and this scene features a reimagining of the room-mates song from earlier in the film performed by Ryan. He notes of Mia and Sebastian's Theme that, in order to bring this to life, Ryan Gosling had to start working with piano teacher Liz Kinnon four months prior to the shoot as he was essentially a beginner. When they went to shoot the scene where the piano version was first played, everyone was tense. But, Marius says, " after Ryan's first take, there was at least 10 seconds of astonished silence then much deserved applause."
Executive Music Producer Marius de Vries says of the song "City of Stars", it had many permutations prior to filming from duet, female lead, male lead until it locked into its current position. The whistling in the song was done by Justin Hurwitz as ryan Gosling is unable to whistle.
The "City of Stars" scene on the Hermosa pier was almost spoiled as, having a limited time to shoot at sunset, a large US battleship suddenly sailed right into the camera line. Producer Marc Platt disappeared for 10 minutes and when he returned, the battleship had moved in time for cast and crew to film the scene.
Marius de Vries reflects on the openening number; "It was the only fully ensemble song in the movie and it was also the most complex in terms of vocal arrangement, staging and logistics. It was really difficult to establish just exactly what the song should be about but Benj and Justin eventually found the perfect balance between poetry and naturalism...in this hymn to the daily L.A. routine."
Marius notes about the upcoming musical number "Audition" that Emma's song happens "after a long musical silence in terms of production numbers." He notes how it's interesting that La La Land breaks with convention in this respect - in La La Land sung/performed music is generally absent from Act 3 until this point. But Marius concludes, "it works because it tracks the curve of Sebastian and Mia's relationship, disappearing for awhile as things get dark." Marius credits not only Emma Stone for outstanding vocal performances throughout but also her vocal coach Eric Vetro for keeping Emma 'match fit' amidst the competing demands of all the choreography and a few head colds which Emma suffered during production.
Production Designer David Wasco and set decorator Sandy Reynolds-Wasco presented the idea to Chazelle that Sebastian should drive a 1980's Buick Riviera convertible - a car that becomes its own character.
The exterior used for Mia's parents Nevada house is actually located in Santa Clarita, California 34 miles from Los Angeles.
The film's co-lyricist Pasek says of the final musical number, "Audition" that they were inspired by the idea in the story "that Mia's aunt was a little crazy and that gene is what made her so alive." Co-Lyricist Paul says the "song is about a woman who was a little unhinged but she left an impression. And that flame lives on in her niece."
A song called "La La Land" was cut from the final film but Pasek says it had a lot of road metaphors in it. You don't know where you're going to go, but follow every turn and L.A. will lead you..." Pasek points out the line in "Audition" that picks up this metaphor of "Who knows where it will lead us, and that's why they need us'.
For the song "Audition" Emma Stone sang live on camera in a single take. It was the last song Justin Hurwitz composed from the score. He was playing piano in the next room linked up to the actress via an earpiece. He let Emma lead the song, so he was reacting to her and oftentimes the piano is a little bit behind the vocal. He says he was nervous playing the piano as it was a pivotal moment for Emma and he knew she only had so many takes where her voice would last. Hurwitz said he wanted to understand the rest of the score before tackling this song as it was so pivotal narratively.
In discussions with Chazelle, Hurwitz understood "Audition" was an optimistic one about never giving up your dreams but with a bittersweet tone to it. When Hurwitz first composed the song it began with notes that had certain pitches. Talking with Chazelle as they shaped the scene, they realied Emma needed to slip from spoken word into the song and so the beginning needed to be pitchless.
Lyricist Benj Pasek says the difference between a pop song and a theater song is that a pop song is about how it makes you feel while a theater song is a verb about what's going to change. In "Audition" their goal was to make it a verb, not just about a feeling but about how once Mia sings it, things will change for her. The song was filmed in one shot. There are no picture edits. The perfect take had to happen in that single take. And fortunately for fans of the film, it did.
A demo of "Audition" is the first thing Emma Stone heard at her initial meeting with Chazelle about the project. The director thinks part of the reason she agreed to do the movie was to play that moment. Hurwitz comments, "This song is really special for me and I'm just so proud of it. I think it's exactly what we envision this scene and this song to be.
A soundtrack album was released on December 9, 2016 featuring selections from Hurwitz's score and songs performed by the cast.
In this film, Costume Designer Mary Zophres and Chazelle focused on color as a vehicle for emotion, talking about how a scene might be neutrals with a yellow accent and another might have the men in dark and the women in color. Timliness with a contemporary quality was what they were after. The hue was key to Sebastian's look from the sable brown suit in the opening to his royal blue sport coat. Zophres was particularly pleased with the choice for Sebastian's two-tone shoes. The shoes were popular in the '40s but seemed to bring in a sense of whimsey and lightness and a love of life ultimately becoming the signature for Sebastian because he has this passion for the past that he brings to the present.
Gosling notes that the costumes Zophres dressed him in helped him to walk the line between a 1940's and contemporary sensibility. For the big dance numbers, Zophres focused on form but also function dressing her leads in clothing that swings, swirls and looks even more striking amidst the high-flying performances. Zophres notes that when she was researching for the film and watching Gene Kelly musicals, she would notice that, when they went into dance routines, you can see the lining in the clothes change to something lighter, less heavy. Zophres referenced her huge collection of magazines including Life and Vogue from the 1930's onward to get ideas for the lead character's costumes.
This is the Chateau Marmont on Sunset boulevard in Los Angeles. All of the exteriors and interiors of Mia's new apartment were shot there. Built in 1929, the Marmont has been a well known celebrity gathering place through the years with guests including; Rita Hayworth, Howard Hughes, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. Most of the early casting sessions for the film Rebel Without a Cause were held in a bungalow there where director Nicholas Ray was living at the time.
Los Angeles as a city has many nicknames including the title of this film, La La Land. The phrase "La-La Land" connotes a dreamy disconnection from reality. The phrase "La La Land" dates back to 1979. Other nicknames for the city include; 'Tinseltown', 'City of Angels' as well as 'The Entertainment Capital of the World'.
Chazelle and Hurwitz were in a band called Chester French while at Harvard. The band would later go on to sign with Interscope records years later as Chazelle and Hurwitz came to Los Angeles to pursue filmmaking.
The interiors and exteriors of Seb's club were shot at an existing club in Long Beach.
La La Land had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on August 31, 2016. Lionsgate opened the film in five locations on Decmber 9, 2016 and it went on to become one of the top 20 most profitable releases of 2016.
This building was originally the Broadlind Hotel built in 1928. It was called the Broadlnd hotel because it was built on the corner of Broadway and Linden. When it opened the hotel attracted mainly male tenants, many of whom were navel officers docked at Long Beach.
Nedra Wheeler who plays Seb's bassist has performed not only jazz but pop and R&B and has performed with musicians as diverse as Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald and Bob Dylan. Clifton "Fou Fou" Eddie plays Seb's drummer also performed in Chazelle's film Whiplash. Khirye Tyler plays Seb's pianist.
It was Gosling's idea to have Sebastian want to own his own club rather than just be a successful jazz musician.
Emma Stone proposed the plot line that her character would create the logo for Seb's club.
Producers Fred Berger, Jordan Horowitz and Damien Chazelle made a pact that under no circumstances would Seb and Mia end up together at the end of the story.
Emma Stone comments, "Even though Mia is happily married and has a baby, this movie celebrates those loves that came before and that they're just as important as the love you have now."
Director Chazelle says, "Musicals are a genre...where you can't really go into it with a protective shield. What's scary about the genre is what's exhilarating, which is that it forces you to wear your heart on your sleeve. One of the greatest pleasures of watching this movie was watching (Emma) go somewhere deeper and darker than we're used to."
The Smokehouse restaurant lounge had a long list of luminaries perform there including The Captain and Tenile, The Drifters, and the Inkspots. Because of its proximity to the studios, the Smoke House became a watering hole for actors such as, Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart, Judy Garland and Cary Grant. Producer George Schlatter discovered Laugh-In announcer Gary Owens in the restaurant when he came in and proferred, "My, the acoustics are good in here."
The "Epilogue" was shot on Hollywood Center Studios where Hollywood luminaries such as Shirley Temple, Mae West and the Marx Brothers once worked. In the 1960's the following TV shows were shot there; The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres and The Addams Family.
In the number, known as the "Epilogue" Production Designer David Wasco said, "Damien wanted to go into this extremely heightened fantasy world of L.A. and Paris on a studio backlot.
This was all created with painted backdrops so that the look is very, very theatrical. The Production Design team worked on this scene from the very beginning of pre-production until the day they shot it.
The dream sequence was filmed in short bits throughout the eight weeks of shooting.
Chazelle wanted to explore the idea of this alternate reality with no dialogue and purely through image, score and dance. Chazelle says this sequence was inspired by An American in Paris and Singin' in the Rain. He wanted to resurrect a tradition you used to see in musicals but don't see at all anymore.
Emma Stone calls this finale an exploration of what might have been, "using the tools that only a musical can use to flesh it out and run with it." Chazelle says, "Let's give them the old fashioned musical version of their story where there's no real conflict and we can be left to reflect, is that actually better than what happened? That's the question the audience can be left with." Chazelle continues, "It's a movie where people are growing up and part of growing up is realizing life has its way."
The Wascos worked with concept artist Carl Sprague to help design the look for this scene.
Chazelle wanted the film's musical numbers to be filmed 'head to toe' and shot in a single take like the famous musicals he admired from the 1930's.
Regarding his dancing, Ryan Gosling told the director he felt like, 'a gangly monkey'. "My extremities are everywhere; it's hard for me to control my body."
Chazell and editor Tom Cross spent nearly a year editing the film. They were primarily concerned with nailing the tone of the film.
This section of the Mia-Sebastian fantasy sequence was shot at the Orcutt Ranch Park built in 1919 by William Orcutt as a country estate for his family. A small grouping of Oak trees on the property are over 700 years old and it was branches from these trees that were burned with limestone in a kiln to produce the mortar used to construct Los Angeles' first Spanish settlement in 1797.
Critical praise followed the film's release. Diana Dabrowska of Cinema Scope said, "La La Land" may look like the world we dream about, but it also understand the cruelty that can come out of (or undermine) those dreams." The Boston Globe's Ty Burr said, "...the movie traffics in the bittersweet happiness of treasuring things that are vanishing, like the unrealized future imagined in the climatic dance number, or...Hollywood musicals themselves."
A.O. Scott of the New York Times wrote, the film "succeeds both as a fizzy fantasy and a hard-headed fable, a romantic comedy and a showbiz melodrama, a work of sublime artifice and touching authenticity." Tom Charity of Sight & Sound wrote, "Chazelle has crafted a rare thing, a genuinely romantic comedy as well, a rhapsody in blue, red, yellow and green." Peter Bradshaw writing for The Guardian said La La Land is, "a sun-drenched masterpiece".
When the film won best picture at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards, Chazelle revealed that this ending sequence was partially inspired by the 1927 film 7th Heaven starring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell. In that film, Farrell goes off to war and dies but Gaynor, informed of his death, holds onto the irrational hope that he is still alive. The studio made the director shoot a happy ending in which Farrell returns alive. This gave Chazelle the idea that both realities can exist simultaneously because the woman's love for her man is strong enough to make it so. In this case, the laws of time and physics cease to exist. So one way to interpret the ending of La La Land, is that the Epilogue is equally as 'true' as the narrative of which it is a part.
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.
Marc Platt: the film producer is one of the cheering spectators during "Another Day of Sun" when the truck drum and dance performance begins. He is a conspicuously older man on the left side of the frame.
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.