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Damien Chazelle Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (2)  | Mini Bio (2)  | Spouse (2)  | Trade Mark (2)  | Trivia (11)  | Personal Quotes (83)

Overview (2)

Born in Providence, Rhode Island, USA
Height 5' 9½" (1.77 m)

Mini Bio (2)

Damien Sayre Chazelle is an American director and screenwriter. He was born in Providence, Rhode Island. His mother, Celia Sayre (Martin) Chazelle, is an American-Canadian writer and professor of history at The College of New Jersey. His father, Bernard Chazelle, is a French-American Eugene Higgins Professor of computer science at Princeton University, originally from Clamart, France. Chazelle has a sister, Anna, who is an actress and circus performer.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: omermertcanbolat

Damien Chazelle is an American director and screenwriter. His directorial debut was the musical Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench (2009), his breakthrough came when he wrote and directed his second feature film, Whiplash (2014), which was based on his award-winning 2013 short film of the same name. The film received five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay for Chazelle.

In 2016 his film La La Land received critical and commercial acclaim, winning all 7 of its Golden Globe nominations, including Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. It also received a record-tying 14 Academy Award nominations, winning six including Best Director for Chazelle who became the youngest person in history to win a Oscar for Best Director at the age of 32.

Chazelle also co-wrote 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Pedro Borges

Spouse (2)

Olivia Hamilton (22 September 2018 - present)
Jasmine McGlade (26 June 2010 - 2014) ( divorced)

Trade Mark (2)

His films often revolve heavily around jazz music
His films often revolve around people who are defined by their potential talent and ambition

Trivia (11)

Met his former wife, director-producer Jasmine McGlade, at Harvard University. She was his co-worker on several projects and movies.
Graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Visual and Environmental Studies.
Directed 3 Oscar nominated performances: J.K. Simmons, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Simmons and Stone won for their performances in his films.
He is the son of Celia (Martin), a writer, and Bernard Chazelle, a computer scientist. His father is French, from Clamart. His mother was born in California, to an English-born, Beverly Hills-raised, father, and a Calgary-born, Canadian mother. Damien's mother was later herself raised in Calgary, before returning to the U.S.
Brother of actress Anna Chazelle.
His Best Director Oscar win for La La Land (2016) at age 32, made him the youngest recipient of this award category in the Academy's history (26 Feb 2017).
His maternal grandfather, John Sayre Martin, Jr., a professor of English, is the son of John Sayre Martin, who worked for Paramount Pictures in London, and Eileen Earle, who was a stage actress.
Some of Damien's all-time favorites include (film): The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964); (soundtrack song): "As Time Goes By" (from Casablanca (1942)); (movie scene): "Cheek to Cheek" dance number with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in Top Hat (1935); (line of dialog): "Forget it Jake, it's Chinatown" (Joe Mantell to Jack Nicholson in Chinatown (1974); (movie ending) Charles Chaplin's City Lights (1931).
He is the youngest person to ever win the Academy Award for Best Director at the age of thirty-two. The previous record holder, Norman Taurog, had held the title for eighty-six years.
He is the youngest person to win the Golden Globe for Best Director.
Between 2013-17, he was the only non-Mexican Best Director winner at the Academy Awards. He was also the only American Best Director Oscar winner between 2010-17.

Personal Quotes (83)

I didn't have traditional stage fright. If there was 500 people in the audience or three people in the audience, it didn't really make a difference. What made a difference was the conductor. Everything that I was scared about as a drummer was him.
By the end of high school, I had this fork-in-the-road moment where part of me considered going to vocational music school to really pursue it.
I don't think of 'Macbeth' as the villain. I don't think of 'King Lear' as the villain. I don't think of 'Hamlet' as the villain. I don't think of 'Travis Bickle' as the villain.
When you're trying to paint a portrait of a very specific world, you're trying to show what makes the world different. So, sometimes it means exaggerating certain kind of aspects, but I don't think it's that important or it's that much of an issue as long as you get an emotional truth across.
There are a lot of musicians in my life. But movies came first for me. That was my original passion.
My version of a stress dream is, really, showing up on a concert stage with a drum set and not knowing the chart.
I was a writer for hire. I wrote to pay the bills.
As a drummer, you're always fighting for a level that you never quite attain.
The go-to reflex all over Hollywood is still likeability. I've always had a problem with it because I think I have a weird barometer in the sense that some of the characters I've cared about the most in movies are characters that are often thought of as despicable.
It's easy to show terrible people's behavior on screen, and we all just kind of nod and go, 'Isn't that terrible.' It's more interesting when you can show terrible behavior in the interest of something good.
I handle screenings and award ceremonies really badly.
It's interesting when you wind up distilling all your ambitions and your goals and dreams into one single person. It's giving that person a lot of power.
I was in this public high school in Princeton, and it had this topnotch jazz program - if you were a musician of any kind of caliber, your holy grail was to be in that orchestra. It was that claim to fame of the school, of the town, other than the university. But it was better than the university band.
It's a little difficult when something goes from being an utter obsession - a thing where your skill defines you as a person - to it just being a thing you occasionally do.
I actually grew up wanting to be a filmmaker. I wanted to make movies, and music was a detour, almost.
If you look at 'West Side Story,' a lot of those numbers are actually pretty cutty, but the cuts are always musically motivated.
I was interested in music and making movies about musicians, but my own experiences, and doing what it felt like for me to be a drummer? Nah, I wasn't interested in that.
There were so many specific things from high school jazz band that I remembered: the conductor searching out people who were out of tune, or stopping and starting me for hours in front of the band as they watched.
I like a set to be a happy place, where people can feel free to experiment.
I was always pretty decent at fast stick work or doing stuff that seems impressive that's not really; I was pretty tasteful and had good ideas musically. But I had a terrible sense of tempo, which is like being a blind painter.
I didn't feel the kind of joy every day playing drums that I thought you were supposed to feel.
If you're on the varsity team, the responsibilities are a lot bigger and there's more stress, but you also walk around feeling probably like you can hold your head high.
The greatest thing has been that projects that were pipe dreams before 'Whiplash' are now feeling more realistic.
I love the ending of 'The Wrestler.'
There's something very particular about the kind of rage you feel when you're alone in a practice room by yourself, unable to master a simple thing like a rudiment.
I would break a lot of cymbals. You whack the cymbals hard enough, and they will crack in half. Drums are not actually as sturdy as they look. They're actually somewhat fragile instruments.
It's a weird thing where, especially in jazz, you have to totally mention cutting sessions and people one-upping each other and people being super, super tough on each other. And out of it emerge these genius musicians.
Certainly, my manager Gary Ungar was the first person to give me any attention and hustle for me. This was back in 2009.
As a kid, I was just writing scripts and taking whatever film classes I could in college.
I've always, especially through old Hollywood musicals, loved just to watch tap dancing; I adore it. I think it's fantastic.
The end result of my personal story is that I became a really good drummer, and I know myself well enough to know that I wouldn't have without this really tough conductor and this really cutthroat hostile environment I was in.
People like Art Blakey and Buddy Rich, you look at them playing music, and it's just like looking at a heavy metal drummer. I mean, they're playing with the same amount of ferocity. It's not to say all jazz is like that.
At the upper echelon of musicians in general, I guess performers in general, you have to have this kind of live-or-die, cutthroat mentality.
I was a kid living in New Jersey, who - I'd wanted to make movies since I was a little kid, so that came before music for me. But I started playing drums just as a hobby, and I wasn't even really into jazz that much.
I hadn't seen that many movies that really go deep enough into the fears of playing music or the language that musicians can use to treat each other or, like, the way that you can see it dehumanize and the way that it can feel like boot camp.
I had seen a lot of music movies that celebrated music or that showed the kind of joys from playing music, which is a big part of it of course, and not something that I would want to deny.
It was only through getting interested in more out-there and avant-garde forms that the musical suddenly seemed like such a wonderful genre to me.
It's certainly no coincidence that big bands became the entertainment of the army in WWI and WWII, and that jazz drumming style is very military influenced. The snare drum comes from the military and becomes the core kind of sound of jazz drums.
I was a jazz drummer, and it was my life for a while: what I lived and breathed every day.
I find L.A. kind of romantic, actually. As a movie junkie, it's a city that was built by the movies. There's something really weird and surreal about it that I find energizing.
I wanted to look at the mentality that can breed that sort of intensity, that kind of cutthroat, pressure-cooker feeling, especially a form of music like jazz, that should be - or you'd think should be - all about liberation and improvisation and everything.
Certainly, I've loved musicals for a while, so I did some short films in college that had musical numbers and things like that, so I've kind of been obsessed with Fred and Ginger and Vincente Minnelli and Stanley Donen and Jaques Demy forever.
I was in high school, and when you get to be 14, 15, you start to feel a little more like your own person so that you can assert your adulthood a little bit.
I'm a terrible procrastinator.
I remember being inspired myself when smaller films, whether it's 'Beasts' or 'Winter's Bone,' wound up in the Oscars lineup.
As delicate as 'Guy and Madeline' was, it was important that 'Whiplash' come off as more of a fever dream.
I remember when I first met Jason Reitman with the 'Whiplash' script; he quickly became a mentor figure who guided me through the process and also protected me and made sure that when it came time to actually make 'Whiplash,' I was able to make exactly the movie I wanted to make.
I don't like the idea the viewer can kind of sit there and go, 'Make me like this person.' People aren't inherently sympathetic.
One interesting thing about jazz, or art in general, but jazz especially is such an individual art form in the sense that improvisation is such a big part of it, so it feels like it should be less soldiers in an army and more like free spirits melding. And yet, big band jazz has a real military side to it.
'Whiplash' was always the song I hated the most because it's a song designed to screw with drummers.
My motivation for being a good drummer was born out of fear, which, in a way, seems so antithetical to what art should be.
I think there is something to be said for not coddling people and not accepting good as good enough.
I think, especially living in L.A., it's very easy to get wrapped up in weekend announcements and the trades and the whole social life of the city, and to get divorced from what actually matters.
Before 'Whiplash,' I'd had a string of failed scripts. I'd pour my blood, sweat and tears into them, and no one would like them.
If you're an artist, you want to draw from real life; you want to draw from experiences, emotion, and it's something that a lot of musicians juggle with. I've always found it so fascinating.
Going back to my film education, I always have that voice in my head that's always screaming, 'Sell out!' And that's good: you want that, because it keeps you on your toes, and it's important to remember what's actually important.
There are a few musicians that I know who seem on the outside like very asocial or somewhat unemotional people, people who aren't capable of emotions, and people think they're very cold inside.
I do truly believe that the smallest stories can wind up being the biggest because it's through the specific that a writer can best access the universal.
First time that I cried at a work of art was at a drum solo that I saw. A drummer named Winard Harper, part of the Billy Taylor Trio, gave back in - I would have been in high school - 2005 or something.
I like movies that are specific. Movies that home in on a very specific subculture, a specific discipline, a specific world.
My dad is a big jazz fan, and that was the reason I first got into jazz.
What I love about jazz is that it's full of legends, full of myths. It's an oral history because it started in New Orleans and Kansas City, under the radar.
If you want to make a movie, there may be many forces trying to pull you down, but really, a lot of it is will power. You can will it into being if you just believe that you are going to make a movie.
My first movie was totally improvised.
I'm predisposed to never be in pure celebration mode.
'Whiplash' scared me. I feel you should only do projects that scare you to some degree. I get motivated by those sorts of feelings.
In a weird way, I'm always going to ground myself. I'm an insecure kind of pessimist, but I'm always kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop.
What's great about musicals is their energy and go-for-brokeness - stopping the story to sing and dance. How can you not love that?
I like the idea of working my way up. I don't feel impatient to immediately jump into something that could literally bring down a studio if I don't do it well.
If there's a good review, I'll skip over the headline, but I always find the bad reviews and read those. I don't know why. It's a little sick and demented.
Nothing is guaranteed to last, so you should just enjoy it as it happens.
I tend to latch on to things and not let go.
In some ways, jazz is the most precise of art forms and the loosest in the sense that it's all about improvisation, but the musicianship required is kind of insane. To actually play with real jazz musicians is a different level of musicianship that almost has no equal in any other form of music in the world.
I feel like a lot of directing is casting.
My hands were constantly blistered or bloody; my ears were always ringing. I tore through drumheads and drumsticks like there was no tomorrow.
I've always wanted to make movies that are fever dreams.
Mozart was born Mozart. Charlie Parker was born Charlie Parker.
I guess art itself is insane. Its actual function is rarely clear, and yet people give their hearts and souls and lives to it, and have for all of history.
I love the idea of using film language similarly to how musicians use music - combining images and sounds in a way that they create an emotional effect.
I was really trying to sell to people who hate jazz: to make a case for the art form as youthful and energetic, not the sort of rarified intellectual activity it's painted as.
Practicing is not normally fun. Sometimes people say they're practicing, but they're really just enjoying themselves and the instrument. That's not real practice.
Real practice means working on stuff you're not good at. Real practice is about butting your head against the wall repeatedly until you get it right.
What Christopher Nolan achieves in "Dunkirk" feels like something he has been building toward his whole career. It's cinema as music - a continuous, breathless flow of images and sound that feels elemental and primal. For such a giant motion picture, depicting such an epic event, it is simplicity itself. Faces, bodies, land and sea and sky. It reminded me of the lessons of silent cinema - when you strip away everything but the essentials, you can look at the real beating heart of a thing.

In this case, the "thing" is a battle that few people in America had ever heard of. How could a movie called "Dunkirk," in this day and age, draw so many people to movie theaters across the country? It's something of a miracle, a giant middle finger to all the claims that there's no place for big risks on the big screen anymore. This is a work of pure cinema, speaking the same language as the cut from flame to desert in "Lawrence of Arabia" or bone to spaceship in "2001." It's also remarkably specific. It captures something that feels uniquely British - the exchanges near the end of the film for example, as the weary soldiers return, bottling up a tremendous reserve of feeling within just a few words. There's a real poetry in their stoicism; for all the bombs and shrieks of gunfire, this is a quiet film. In that combination of scope and subtlety, the enormous canvas and the tiny, telling detail, it feels closer to the best work of David Lean than any recent movie I can recall.

More than that, it feels like Christopher Nolan. This is a filmmaker who has managed, time and again, to make the most seemingly impersonal projects - superhero epics, deep-space mind-benders - feel deeply personal. "Dunkirk" is, to me, his most personal - and most moving - work yet.

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