• Industry


It is the typical Sundance success story: young aspiring director tries to raise money for the feature film he has written about a jazz drummer, and in order to do that he shoots a short using a scene from the script in two days with friends. The short, Whiplash, gets into Sundance, and it is so good that it attracts the attention of the Sundance Institute and of producer Jason Reitman. One year later, the 28-year old director, Damien Chazelle, opens the Sundance Film Festival with his feature film of the same name. In the story, Miles Teller has the role of a drummer in a high league music school who gets cruelly pushed to the point of abuse by his conductor, played by J.K Simmons. The film had such a warm reception at the Eccles Theatre on opening night that Sony Classics immediately bought it with a $3 million deal. “I was a drummer myself and a lot of the story is autobiographical,” Damien told us in Park City. “I have been trying to make films while trying to do music, and I think in both worlds you have to face 99% rejection – only 1 percent of the people break through. I wanted to make a movie about how hard it is to rise, to achieve something. A lot of films about accomplished musicians like Mozart or Charlie Parker are about people who at the end were fully formed, who made it. I wanted to make a movie about someone who might not be a great musician at the beginning and then he comes through with blood and tears.” The film, Damien adds, was inspired by a conductor he himself had in school. “Some of the lines in the dialogue are taken verbatim from him, but he was never abusive, he was just trying to get me to be a better drummer, which I did, thanks to him. But I didn’t want to make a movie just about him. I wanted to pose the dilemma: what if he got into abusiveness but got results? At what point is it not worth it? So I find everything the character does in the movie utterly horrifying, I wanted to make the character in the movie as horrible as possible, and the music as good as possible, and not let the audience think that the end justifies the means.”
“I like to play drums, but in the film I would play sometimes to the point of exhaustion,” adds Miles. I remember one particular day Damien wanted me to keep playing, and really get into it, and he never yelled ‘cut.’ At one point I had to stop, I just couldn’t do it anymore. Believe me, you get sweaty and in pain very fast when you play like that! I am not a method actor but for me to really sink my teeth into this character and his story, I wanted to play to the point of exhaustion, and a lot of that anger was really coming out.”
Silvia Bizio [gallery:3322]