La La Land's Production Was A 'Race Against The Clock' Despite Having Months To Prep

Back in 2016, writer-director Damien Chazelle dazzled audiences with his epic musical romance, "La La Land." The Oscar-winning film saw Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone play a pair of star-crossed lovers whose paths to stardom were split between their undying dreams. An ode to Hollywood, "La La Land" boasted several large-scale musical numbers based on an album exclusively created for the film by frequent Chazelle collaborator Justin Hurwitz. Given all the moving parts and the attention to detail, "La La Land" proved to be an exhaustive effort, from start to finish.

While Chazelle is no stranger to using music as a centerpiece in his movies, "La La Land" is by far his most lively and bombastic take on the musical genre. Right from the opening scene shot on location in Los Angeles, the film transforms every musical number into an elaborate set piece that tells the story in a more exuberant fashion than any piece of dialogue could. It's very effective — but also very demanding, as you might imagine. And despite having plenty of time during pre-production, the immense scale of "La La Land" forced Chazelle and Co. to get a lot of work done as fast as possible when the cameras started rolling.

'Racing against the clock'

"La La Land" is chock-full of long takes, extensive dance numbers, and enough camera movement to make Damien Chazelle's feature film debut "Whiplash" look tame. (It's even got a Hitchcock Easter egg that you may not have noticed.) In an interview with The Verge, Chazelle described the immense undertaking that "La La Land" turned out to be:

"Doing a musical, especially an original musical, it does feel at times like you're trying to make three projects at once. You're making the movie itself, but you're also making an album and choreographing a ballet. And all those things have to ultimately exist entirely together, in unison. So even though we did have this three, four-month prep, it felt like every day, we were racing against the clock, much as it felt on 'Whiplash.'"

One scene, in particular, certainly backs his statement up, too. For the memorable "A Lovely Night" sequence, the production had to wait for the sunset to film, giving them a short window to complete the complex dance number using only four takes (via The Hollywood Reporter). But it was all worth it, as the scene turned out to be the defining image of "La La Land." If that doesn't speak to Chazelle's commitment, I'm not sure what will.

The complexity of "La La Land" makes it a tightrope endeavor no matter how you slice it. There's a reason Chazelle is the youngest filmmaker to win the Oscar for best director, after all.