101 Greatest Screenplays of the 21st Century (*so far)

Damien Chazelle’s debut feature Whiplash put him on the map, but La La Land was the film he first wrote and dreamed of making. After meeting rejection everywhere, he wrote Whiplash as an easier film to sell on an indie budget. When it was a hit and he was flush with newfound clout, he was able to finally sell his musical about a purist jazz musician and a struggling actress who find love, and then lose it in Tinseltown. Chazelle told the WGAW website he didn’t know how much he related to the story until it was done: “I don’t know what it’s like to burst onto song on the highway or float up into the stars, but I do know intimately what it’s like to be a young wannabe artist in L.A., trying to reconcile big dreams with the reality of life in the city, trying to balance life and art and all the rejections, and the various little heartbreaks that L.A. can easily provide.”

READ: Damien Chazelle on the gravity-defying effort it took to make La La Land and what the film says about artists reconciling their dreams with their need to be human.