Young Oscar-tipped director's Hollywood dream comes true

LOS ANGELES, US, Veronique Dupont- Writer-director Damien Chazelle is only 29, but he is already living his dream of the Hollywood big-time.
His second feature "Whiplash" -- about the stormy relationship between a bullying teacher and his jazz drumming student -- swept up trophies at Sundance, Deauville and elsewhere, and is tipped for glory in Tinseltown's looming awards season.

It won a nomination for best supporting actor for J.K. Simmons at the Golden Globes, which take place next month.
Chazelle told AFP about his adventures making the film, winning awards and schmoozing everyone up to and including the Oscar-bestowing Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Q: How is the Oscars and awards season campaign going?
A: "The path really began in Sundance nearly a year ago (the film won two prizes there). We made the film in six months, from preparation to post-production (with filming done in a super-fast 19 days). So we spent more time talking about it than actually making it! I am working with Sony Pictures, they are people who really know how to make this kind of film work. And now, from December to January, it's (Hollywood) awards season. It's important to meet members of the Academy at special screenings, question and answer sessions. But if people don't like your film, you can't do anything!"
Q. What do you think of Sony Picture's decision to cancel the release of "The Interview"?
A: "They didn't have any choice. But it's dangerous that this can change the prospects for a film. It can lead to some degree of self-censorship by filmmakers. If there is something good to come out of it, it's maybe that (studios) will understand that they need more computer security, which is more important than people thought."
Q: Can you talk about your next film, "La La Land," about Los Angeles?
A: "It's a musical comedy with Miles Teller -- who has the main role in 'Whiplash.' I tried for a long time to persuade people to make this film, since 2010, and now it's going to be made thanks to 'Whiplash.' When I was at university I made a musical comedy as my end-of-course thesis, and I wanted to make another one. For me, to make a real musical comedy here in Hollywood is a dream."
"It takes place in Los Angeles. It's two artists who are trying to find their way and who fall in love. As in 'Whiplash,' it's a story about the difficulty of finding a balance between life and art. It's very personal. In 'Whiplash' there was a lot of me and my own experiences. It's the same thing in 'La La Land.' I am very nostalgic for the golden age of cinema and musical comedies -- Jacques Demy, Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly... It was the last generation who danced to jazz, just before rock. The 1930s to the 1960s is an era which means a lot to me, not only cinematically but musically."
Q: Did your father, a scientist, understand your artistic dreams more than those of the character in "Whiplash"?
A: "I was lucky to have a very encouraging family, who understand what I wanted to do. Well, they didn't really have a choice because I knew when I was very young that I wanted to make films, as soon as I saw my first movie. My father is a mathematician, but he's also a big fan of jazz and blues. For him, America is the land of music."

Friday, December 19th 2014
Veronique Dupont

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