La La Land’s director Damien Chazelle talks to Kim Masters on her industry podcast, The Business about the journey of struggle and success that brought he and his long time partner and composer, Justin Hurwitz, to where they are today.
Chazelle and Hurwitz’s story sounds similar to many of the successful indie filmmakers who are adamant to aspiring filmmakers that if you keep working and creating then eventually you will be able to find success. The Duplass brothers, writers and directors of many successful films and TV shows, are some of the strongest voices in this argument claiming that their filmmaking motto is “make movies, not meetings.” Chazelle and Hurwitz seemed to have a similar approach to the Duplass brothers a few years ago when La La Land was in limbo at Focus Features. Instead of continuously worrying about the state of their film, which might never have been made, the two went out and shot a short film called Whiplash. This was picked up and made into a feature that was nominated for five Oscars and won three. From this success, the two men were able to finally get La La Land off the ground with the help of Lionsgate, which has just tied the record for the most Oscar nominations with fourteen!
The path that Chazelle and Hurwitz took to success is not an unfamiliar one. Indie filmmaking has seen this sort of success before and it will again, but that is not to say it is not extremely difficult. The common factor that seems to be prevalent in these stories is that these filmmakers refuse to quit and are always working to improve their craft. Chazelle and Hurwitz simply chose to work on another project when there other became stagnant instead of dwelling on potential failure and the Duplass brothers first major success came at the age of twenty-nine after years of failed attempts. These filmmakers know that success isn’t a guarantee, but the likelihood of success goes up with each experience gained and that no one will make the best film their first try.