According to composer Justin Hurwitz, all the piano performance featured in the film was first recorded by pianist Randy Kerber during pre-production. Ryan Gosling then spent two hours a day, six days a week in piano lessons learning the music by heart. By the time filming had begun, Gosling was able to play all the piano sequences seen in the film without the use of a hand double or CGI.
Emma Watson turned down the role of Mia due to scheduling conflicts with Beauty and the Beast (2017), while Ryan Gosling turned down the role of the Beast in that film to appear in this one. Coincidentally, both are musicals.
Because the director wanted to shoot the scene in the tradition of old musicals without cuts or editing, Ryan Gosling practiced playing the piano and played it himself in one take on his first day of shooting. Co-star John Legend--who is a classically trained pianist--says he is "jealous" of how quickly Gosling learned to play so well.
Sebastian's tip about amplifying a car fob's range by holding it under your chin does work, but is not expected to cause cancer. Most fobs use a frequency that resonates well with water, and the human brain is mostly water.
The express lane freeway ramp used for the opening number, Another Day Of Sun, is the same stretch of freeway as used for the iconic "bus jump" sequence from Speed (1994), where a 50-foot section of the ramp was digitally removed using CGI to create the gap the bus must jump over.
Was at one point set to star Miles Teller and Emma Watson. Teller was dropped from the project in favor of Ryan Gosling, while Watson dropped out to pursue other projects. Teller previously starred in director Damien Chazelle's first feature Whiplash.
The song "When I Wake", by Justin Hurwitz was first featured in the movie Whiplash, with the two main characters listening to the song while out on a date. The same thing happens in La La Land as the song is featured in the background while Sebastian and Mia are talking about jazz - exactly the same topic the two characters from Whiplash were discussing.
Films that were inspirations/influences and screened for the cast/crew include: Singin' in the Rain (1952), Top Hat (1935), An American in Paris (1951), The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964), Swing Time (1936), The Band Wagon (1953), The Young Girls of Rochefort (1967), and even 8 1/2 (1963) for the film's opening traffic number.
La La Land has strong ties to Emma Stone's real-life history. The movie is based in LA, and Mia is discovered as a college dropout actress pursuing her dreams. Emma Stone is actually a school dropout herself, moving to LA at the age of 15 in pursuit of an acting career.
Upon its huge historic victory at the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards, La La Land (2016) broke the record for the most Golden Globe Awards with seven wins (besting One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) and Midnight Express (1978)), as well as the record with the most Golden Globe wins in every category in which it was nominated with seven nominations and seven wins (also besting One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest).
The line in the film said by Sebastian (Ryan Gosling): "That's LA. They worship everything and they value nothing.", was actually added in by Ryan himself, when he heard his real life girlfriend, Eva Mendes, mention it as a "joke".
At the beginning of the film, the radio announcer heard in Ryan Gosling's car says, "three-time Oscar winner, including Shakespeare In Love ...." This is probably a reference to costume designer Sandy Powell, who won the Academy Awards for The Aviator (2004), The Young Victoria (2009), and Shakespeare in Love (1998). She was also nominated for two other films in 2015, Cinderella (2015) and Carol (2015).
The production reopened two locations for filming: The Rialto Theatre in South Pasadena and the Angels Flight railway in downtown L.A. The Rialto has been closed since 2007 because it was unable to sustain itself as a single movie theatre. Angels Flight has been closed since 2013 over safety issues to the public. Filmmakers were able to get around this by stating that the railway was operating for a day to get it back into service while secretly filming the scene as a private function.
The film set a new record at the 74th Golden Globe Awards where it won seven Golden Globes (Best Picture - Musical or Comedy, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Original Score, Best Original Song "City of Stars", Best Actor Musical or Comedy - Ryan Gosling and Best Actress Musical or Comedy - Emma Stone), surpassing the record of six awards held by "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975) and "Midnight Express" (1978).
The origins of the title is because of two reasons. Firstly the city the film is set in is Los Angeles, or in short form: LA. Hence the city is evident in the title 'La La Land' Secondly the film challenges the stereotypical view of Hollywood by labelling it a dream. This is also seen through the abstract cinematography.
In the film, Ryan Gosling's character is referred to by other character's twice as a famous but deceased celebrity of 2016. Early in the film his sister calls him Ali, a reference to Muhammad Ali who died earlier June, 2016. Later, Mia yells out to him, calling him George Michael who died shortly after the film's release, on Christmas Day 2016.
Ryan Gosling's character, Sebastian, teases his sister in the movie that he should set her up with a man that has a face tattoo. Coincidentally, in his role in, "The Place Beyond the Pines," his character has a face tattoo. He chose this tattoo for his character in TPBtP. After the first day of shooting, he asked to remove the tattoo because of his embarrassment in choice he made for his character, in which case the director told him "absolutely not."
As of January 9th, 2017, La La Land holds the record with the most Golden Globe wins with 7. It won Best Original Song - Motion Picture, Best Original Score - Motion Picture, Best Screenplay - Motion Picture, Best Director - Motion Picture, Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy, and Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy.
Emma Stone's character mentions the fact that there is a radio station named KJAZZ back home where she grew up. Emma Stone grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona. KJZZ (pronounced K-Jazz) is a radio station in the Phoenix market.
Damien Chazelle and Justin Hurwitz came out with the idea of the film during their senior year at Harvard University in 2010 with Hurwitz writing the musical tracks and Chazelle on dialogue. Initially they found two financial backers and a producer for a budget of $1 million. However the demand for a lot of script changes made them to drop the project off. After Whiplash found critical success, the project was resurrected with the studio increasing the budget to $30 million; this allowed the filmmakers to rent the Griffith Observatory for filming (a full day rental there costs $10 thousand).
The crew had a limited time window of 30 minutes within two days to film the dusky purple twilight Hollywood Hills dance sequence. According to Damien Chazelle, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling managed five takes per day, where after each take, they would go back to the starting point with the assistants wiping their sweat before starting the dance routine again.
The opening number was filmed at an extremely hot temperature of 43C (109F) in two days. Each performer had two spare sets of costumes, stored in the cars, which they changed between takes. To maximize the filming time, the choreographer, Mandy Moore, started the rehearsals in May 2015 at the parking lot behind the production office. The sequence was mapped with miniature model cars and post it notes. During filming, to avoid being accidentally filmed on the overhead camera, Moore was hidden beneath a car so that she could bark instructions to the dancers.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Emma Stone performed "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" live. She would decide when to switch from dialogue to singing. There was no pre-recorded track she was lip-syncing to. Justin Hurwitz, the song's composer, was in another room playing piano in her ear. Director Damien Chazelle said this was done so Emma could have more control of the scene.
When Mia gives Sebastian a tour of the Warner backlot, she shows him a window that was used in "Casablanca." Much later, near the end of the movie, when Mia and her husband go into Sebastian's club and he is stunned to see them, it is a clear homage to the famous scene in "Casablanca" when Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henried go to Rick's Café Americain and Bogey is stunned to see Bergman.
Although production was able to film the Griffith Park Observatory interior exhibits, they were not allowed to film in the planetarium, so the planetarium was recreated on a set. The vintage Minolta projector in the center of the planetarium was rented from the Planetarium and Projector Science Museum in Big Bear Lake, California to complete the set.
Towards the end of the film, there is a sign in the painting of Sebastian's fantisized restaurant/club in Paris, with French words enshrined into it. Those words translate to "Chicken on a Stick" which was the original name for the club, which later became "Seb's"
In the last dance sequence, when Sebastian and Mia are fantasizing about a life that could have been, Mia is seen holding a bunch of balloons as a model at a photo shoot in Paris. This directly references a scene in Funny Face, where Audrey Hepburn does exactly the same thing.
In one of many homages to classic films, when Sebastian and Mia dance around in the Paris set, a little boy is clearly seen holding a bright round balloon. This is a nod to the classic French kids' movie The Red Balloon.
After one of the auditions Emma Stone attends, she mentions the film has a plot similar to "Rebel Without a Cause." One of the most iconic things from "Rebel" is James Dean's red jacket, Emma wears a similar jacket to both the audition and the call back.
The ending in which an alternate version of the film is carried out through various mediums of set and dance is most likely a reference to Gene Kelly's famous twenty minute finale to An American in Paris in which the same event occurs.
In the epilogue sequence, when they are walking through Paris, the camera focuses on the clock which shows the time as 12:00, a gentle nod to the film Midnight in Paris (2011) starring Owen Wilson. This is also where we question the reality of what has happened in the film, just like we do with Midnight in Paris.
The final fantasy sequence that shows Paris as part of the imagined life of Sebastian and Mia quickly samples the neon façade of the 'Caveau de la Huchette', a traditional Parisian jazz place. That connects to Sebastian saying earlier to Mia that 'there's good jazz in Paris'.
Tom Everett Scott plays Mia's future husband; a man she meets after leaving for Paris upon landing her first big break as an actress. Scott plays the lead in "American Werewolf in Paris," the spin-off to the 1981 John Landis classic "American Werewolf in London."