The acclaimed new musical La La Land is such a faithful love letter to Los Angeles that the film’s prologue takes the city’s most irksome quality its traffic congestion and turns it into a dazzlingly authentic set piece. In true musical fashion, Another Day of Sun is a chorus-driven opening number featuring dozens of singer-dancers in colorful apparel serenading L.A., all while trapped in an all-too-familiar sight of a freeway standstill.
Its hard to make a case for traffic, and traffic gridlock, as a nice thing writer-director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) told Yahoo Movies at the film’s recent press day (watch above). So I liked the idea of starting with that and building from that to a joyful celebration of the city.
Chazelle explained how they pulled off the scene, which entailed 100-plus cars, 90 dancers and singers, a crane, and the ability to shut down an exit ramp connecting the 110 and 105 highways for two days over a weekend.
It was this incredibly intensive, hard-to-pull-off number that we had had in our heads for a long time, and had rigorously prepared to do, Chazelle said. But you get in a real location, and there was a heat wave, and the truck door wouldn’t work, and the sky was cloudy for half the day. All these things that you have to do with when you shoot in reality that are frustrating.
But I just love the feeling of shooting something like that, for real, and having traffic whiz by you underneath, for real. It was really fun.