×

‘La La Land’ Director Damien Chazelle Lucks Out, Channels Blanche Dubois

La La Land” director Damien Chazelle admitted Saturday that he had been the beneficiary of good fortune in getting the film made.

“You really are very much dependent on the kindness of strangers,” he said, quoting Blanche Dubois’ deathless line in Tennesee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” while concluding a conversation with “Shameless” producer John Wells at the Producers Guild of America’s 9th Annual Produced By conference on the Fox lot.

32-year-old Chazelle, who became the youngest recipient of a best director Academy Award for “La La Land” in February, was attempting to explain how he had managed to succeed at a relatively young age. He began work on the comedy-drama musical in 2010, noting he was inspired by the French classic “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.”

“It had one foot in the past and one in the new,” he noted.

As for the aforementioned strangers, Chazelle credited Matthew Plouffe — who was then a Focus executive — for showing the first professional interest in him as a director, which led to a writing gig on “Ouija” with Cooper Samuelson. That relationship led to Helen Estabrook coming on board as a producer on “Whiplash,” which wound up being nominated for five Oscars and winning three, including Best Supporting Actor for JK Simmons.

But it wasn’t just luck; Chazelle was fulsome in giving credit to “La La Land” producers Fred Berger, Jordan Horowitz, and Marc Platt for leaving him alone when he was shooting while still giving him enough feedback when it was “desperately needed.”

Chazelle also stressed the importance of the director being accountable for the notes given to actors as scenes are being shot, rather than leaving actors to wonder if the note is coming from a producer or the studio.

“Once the shooting starts, the single most exposed person is the actor,” he added.

“Write as much as you can,” he also added at the end of the conversation.

“La La Land” won six Academy Awards after being nominated for a record-tying 14 on Jan. 24. It was shot in 70 different locations in Los Angeles, mostly on location rather than on lots.

More Film

  • Jonathan Taylor Thomas Ed Asner Elliott

    Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Ed Asner, Elliott Gould Seek SAG-AFTRA Board Seats

    Ed Asner, Elliott Gould and Jonathan Taylor Thomas are seeking SAG-AFTRA national board seats as members of presidential candidate Matthew Modine’s progressive Membership First slate. Asner is the former president of the Screen Actors Guild, serving two terms from 1981 to 1985, and winning five Emmys for his role as Lou Grant and two others [...]

  • Mahershala AliMarvel Studios panel, Comic-Con International,

    Comic-Con: Marvel 'Shock and Awe' Strategy Dominates Twitter Buzz

    Disney’s Marvel Studios handily won the hype trophy from this year’s Comic-Con International San Diego. Marvel Studios — which returned to the 2019 Comic-Con stage with a chock-full Phase 4 slate of announcements — dominated the discussion on Twitter out of the convention, capturing the most buzz for eight of the top 10 movies or [...]

  • Chris Rock - Netflix

    Chris Rock's 'Saw' Reboot Moves Up Five Months to May 2020

    Lionsgate has moved Chris Rock’s upcoming “Saw” reboot forward by five months to May 15, 2020, vacating the pre-Halloween date of Oct. 23, 2020. The studio indicated Monday that it decided to move the untitled “Saw” movie into the summer slot after seeing early footage from the set of the film currently shooting in Toronto. The move [...]

  • Peter Farrelly

    Peter Farrelly to Judge Sun Valley Film Festival's Film Lab Competition

    Sun Valley Film Festival has set “Green Book” director Peter Farrelly as the judge for the sixth annual Film Lab competition. The program, sponsored by Tito’s Handmade Vodka, which is in its sixth year, selects one team of filmmakers to work with the festival to complete their film projects. The director and producer of the [...]

  • The Lion King

    'The Lion King' Dominates, But Is Disney Running Low on Remakes?

    “The Lion King” and its massive $185 million domestic debut proved that audiences have an insatiable appetite for Disney’s remakes and re-imaginings. Despite mixed reviews, moviegoers turned out in force for director Jon Favreau’s hyper-realistic update of the classic cartoon. “The Lion King” broke numerous box office records, including the best start among Disney’s live-action [...]

  • The Fast and the Furious

    'Fast & Furious 9' Production Halted After Stuntman Injured in Fall on Set

    An accident on the set of Universal’s “Fast & Furious 9” in the United Kingdom has left a stuntman in hospital with a serious head injury. Production on the movie has halted at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, near London. “We had an injury on the set of ‘FAST 9’ today in Leavesden with one of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content