VARIETY eSHOW DAILY: ‘Whiplash’ Director Damien Chazelle Inspired by His Own Band Days
Writer-director Damien Chazelle’s own experiences in a hyper-competitive high school jazz band helped to inspire “Whiplash,” his darkly comic portrait of an obsessive 19-year-old drummer (Miles Teller) trying to curry favor with a perfectionist bandleader (J.K. Simmons) who isn’t satisfied until there’s quite literally blood on the sheet music. A double winner of the dramatic grand jury prize and audience award at Sundance, the Sony Pictures Classics release made its international debut at Cannes, and plays Toronto Monday.
Variety: This movie really lays waste to the sentimental cliches of the inspirational-teacher drama. In Sundance, some people dubbed it “Full Metal Juilliard” or a sadomasochistic “Dead Poets Society.” It might also be called “To Sir, With Hate.”
Chazelle: When I started the script, I was just writing something in my mind about a drummer, though it could be any kind of artist, going as far as possible to be great, and the price of that. I was also trying to write about the physicality of music, trying to write a music movie as though it were “Raging Bull.” And out of that came this character of the teacher, who was modeled somewhat on a teacher I had and somewhat on other bandleaders I’d heard about, like Buddy Rich, who were famous for tormenting their players.