Damien Chazelle, the wunderkind filmmaker | Sunday Observer

Damien Chazelle, the wunderkind filmmaker

4 July, 2021

You may have heard of ‘Whiplash’ and ‘La La Land’, two feature films shot in 2014 and 2016 respectively which brought immense popularity to a young American screenwriter and director. He is Damien Chazelle. Damien’s ‘Whiplash’ was nominated for five Oscars in which three nominations were for editing, with one each getting nominated for sound mixing/best supporting and the best picture.

Meanwhile, Damien’s ‘La La Land’ received academy award nominations which included the Oscar award for the best director. Right at the moment he is the youngest winner in the category of best director.

The 2009 black and white micro-budget jazz musical Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench is considered to be his very first dual credit as a director and writer. The very same he had initially planned as his thesis for the Harvard Film School. He calls himself living during this particular period of time as a “writer for hire” where he used to write screenplays for the other directors in the film industry.

Jazz drummer

However, in retrospect he says that he never stopped working on his own films. While writing the script for ‘La La Land’ Damien thought of keeping himself slightly free enough where he saved time to get himself occupied with a new script about a jazz drummer.

By this time Damien already had first-hand experience in a high school jazz band. He reminisced about feeling constant “dread...and not being able to eat meals before rehearsals and losing sleep and sweating”. Damien’s memory of the man who led his high school band gave tremendous fruit for him to give life to the fictional band leader in this script.

To Damien’s astonishment, although he got interested in ‘Whiplash’ he was not able to get it produced. In that light, he forced himself to make a short film introduced by the very same name ‘Whiplash’ which was welcomed and acclaimed in the short film category at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013.

The film was able to become proof of a concept film for the feature. Damien’s success at the above film festival paved the way for him to easily secure the support of producers. The finance for the feature was also raised while the same was released in the year 2014. Following the release of the feature, Damien started to pen the screen plays for the romantic musical comedy-drama ‘La La Land’ in the year 2010 which was his next hit.

Though during the initial days he found that raising money for the film was rather difficult in a situation where he disliked compromising his vision, soon he got considerable financial support from the concerned parties following the success of ‘Whiplash’.

Youngest ever

‘Whiplash’ premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2016. It was released in the United States of America on 09th December 2016. Damien became the youngest filmmaker ever to win the academy award at the 89th academy award with his ‘La La Land’ while getting awarded with the trophy for the Best Director.

Damien was seen making the acceptance speech during which he thanked the other directors who got nominated in the category which he won. He declared “I was absolutely honoured and floored to be in your company this year. Thank you for what incredible filmmakers you are and for inspiring me with your work every day”.

He expressed his gratitude to all the people including the stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone who helped him in making the film. Damien made a special mention on Justin Hurwitz, his composer “Thank you for riding with me on this and carrying this dream forward and for never giving up”.

In his acceptance speech he did not fail to extend his gratitude to his soul mate. He added, “I want to thank Olivia, my love, sitting there. This was a movie about love, and I was lucky enough to fall in love while making it. It means the world to me that you’re here sharing this with me”. Damien is a wunderkind filmmaker whose Sunday night’s victory came following a meteoric rise. Damien’s ‘La La Land’ starring Oscar winner Emma Stone and Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling mesmerized the entire audience and the critics swept the Golden Globes and obtained a record tying 14 Academy Award nominations.