Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Check This Out: A Video Rehearsal of "La La Land"s Opening Scene

Scene from La La Land
By now everyone knows what La La Land is. It's currently up for 14 Oscar nominations and on track to win at least half of them. There are moments that stand out from the film, and that includes the opening number on the 105/110 freeway intersection in which everyone jumps out of their cars and does an elaborate dance number. It's a breathtaking number, and one that sets up the rest of the film perfectly. The question could be "How did they do that?" and the answer would be with cameras flying everywhere and dancers singing in hot temperatures. But to look back even further at rehearsals is to see a different side of the equation. Even on an iPhone, director Damien Chazelle had a strong idea of what to expect.

There are a lot of stories that are likely to be told about La La Land in the years to come. It's an unprecedented success that may bring back the movie musical. It has a gorgeous pastiche that calls back to MGM musicals and the works of Jacques Demy. It also doesn't even need its main stars Ryan Gosling or Emma Stone to open the movie. All it needs is a number detailing the joys of working in Hollywood. "Another Day of Sun" is a jubilant start to the film, and one that is hard to forget. 

While the final product is an impressive feat of direction and editing, it's more interesting to note that Chazelle had it story boarded pretty successfully early on before they even knew which freeway they were shooting on. In fact, he recently released video from his iPhone to USA Today that shows what it looked like before the costumes and freeway ramp made their introduction. 

Check out the video below.

As seen in the video, some of the timing is off. However, most of the moves are there - including invisible bicycles. It's an interesting look into the process from one of the most technically impressive movies nominated. It may look simple and retro, but it is far from it. They even built a Griffith Observatory interior to pull off another memorable dance number. It would be difficult to discuss every technical move that this film made, but it will help to explain why it's easy to mark off in most fields both in the main and technical fields. 

If nothing else, this video shows the hard work that goes into making choreography land perfectly on a grand scale. I personally loved what choreographer Mandy Moore did with every scene in the film by managing to capture different genres and styles in the technique. It shines through here, and it shows the hard effort that goes into making effortless joy look that way. Hopefully it's only time until Best Choreography becomes a category at the Oscars. Then again, one can only hope that there's more films like La La Land to warrant it.

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