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Video Interview: Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)

What Damien Chazelle’s sophomore film has managed to do is no small feat. Won big at Sundance with the Jury and Audience awards. Crossed over into Cannes. Premiered at Telluride, TIFF and NYFF. Since opening last October 10th via the Sony Pictures Classics folks, Whiplash has steadily found its audience and is awkwardly landing noms for during awards season with Gotham and the Indie Spirits showing some love to Chazelle and the folk in the tech categories, but also the film’s star pairing of Miles Teller and J.K Simmons.

We’ve been supporters of Chazelle since his microscopic Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench days film days and was equally impressed when the filmmaker issued 2013’s Whiplash, but in the short form. I had a chance to speak with him at Sundance and discussed how he fleshed out the role of the antagonist, how he convinced investors to essentially trust in what was written on the page by what was visually promised with the short, how he mapped out the visual terrain of the film (the film was shot and completed for an opening Sundance slot in less than four months) and the dynamic ergonometric nature of the drummer profession and how it relates back to this seesaw battle of a father figure and son. If you’ve yet to see the film you’re missing out on one of the best American independent films of 2014 — one that keeps on giving when you think it’s come to a halting stop. Here’s my interview with an exhausted filmmaker who, hours earlier saw his film get picked up by Sony Pictures Classics and who, at the time, didn’t have the slightest clue as to how much mileage there was left for the film in terms of the multi film festival circuit landings.

Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist and critic at (founded in 2000). Eric is a regular at Sundance, Cannes and TIFF. He has a BFA in Film Studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013 he served as a Narrative Competition Jury Member at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson's This Teacher (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022 he served as a New Flesh Comp for Best First Feature at the 2022 Fantasia Intl. Film Festival. Current top films for 2022 include Tár (Todd Field), All That Breathes (Shaunak Sen), Aftersun (Charlotte Wells).

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