USA Today has an inside look at the bombastic opening scene of La La Land, including iPhone video shot by director Damien Chazelle that served as the blueprint for the set piece.
In the number, called Another Day of Sun, dozens of dancers in bright clothes enthusiastically tap, stomp, skateboard, and ride bicycles over the roofs and hoods of cars stuck in traffic on the 105/110 freeway overpass. All of that was (not-so-shockingly) a complicated puzzle to piece together, Chazelle told the paper.
For starters, they had to start prepping for the scene before they even knew on which highway they’d be swinging and twirling. They had to not only cast dancers, but dozens of cars that could “support dancing without caving in.”
Once they had all of the players in place, they practiced in parking lots, because they only got one rehearsal on location. Chazelle captured one of those full-on parking lot rehearsals on his iPhone, using the footage as a map for the one freeway rehearsal.
It was a “wreck,” says USA Today.
“The crane could not move the way an iPhone moves,” Chazelle told the paper. “The choreography looked different, the slant of the freeway created a lot of other challenges. Everything was just tricky. We had to go back and regroup and make some adjustments.”
Spoiler alert! Everything worked out just fine. The film scored a record 14 Oscars nominations, including for best picture and best director.