My favorite film I saw last year was, without a doubt, La La Land. Typically, I avoid musicals like the plague. I find them cheesy and full of cliches. I was, however, pleasantly surprised with how much I loved La La Land.
After reading an interview on Provideo Coalition with Thomas Cross, the editor for the film, I gained an even deeper love and understanding for the film. Cross, who was also won an Oscar in 2015 for his editing for Whiplash, is a genius when it comes to his vision and skills, but editing a musical was a whole new challenge. “Usually you make an edit decision based on a number of different factors which include emotion, story, continuity, geography, etc. In the case of a musical film, you consider those factors but also have to consider how your cuts line up with the music,” said Cross in his interview with Steven Hullfish.
“Damien (the director) is very well prepared when he shoots and plans every shot and every move. When you get into editing, however, you invariably have to revise or refine. Sometimes you lift out a part of a scene. Other times, the you need to perfect a camera move or moment that was very difficult to nail on set. Either way, you have to find a way to put the pieces together to make sense emotionally but also to be in perfect solidarity with the music.” – Cross
After watching the film, I was impressed with the fluidity of the scene changes. But after reading this interview and re-watching the film, I had an even better appreciation for the film and all it accomplished.
The editing had a realistic approach, but with a slight lean toward the modernistic style. The whole film felt dream-like, almost as if you were watching the movie from above. It is very evident that the director, Damien Chazelle, and Cross worked very closely together to make sure the vision for the film was clear and understood. Cross even mentions in his interview how closely he worked with Chazelle during pre-production and filming to ensure the style for La La Land would be exactly what Chazelle had intended.
La La Land, was at the forefront of many award shows for film this year, and I believe is a great example of how hard a film team must work (and work together) to create a masterpiece.