Whiplash, written and directed by 30-year-old filmmaker Damien Chazelle, is about a kid in a top notch New York City conservatory who wants to be a great jazz drummer. It began as an 18-minute short film, which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Now, it's nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (J.K. Simmons), and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Chazelle discusses how he drew from his own experience (in the Princeton High School Studio Band) to create the film's competitive spirit around music. Simmons says the closest thing he ever had to a Fletcher in his life was his high school football coach. Plus, Chazelle's thoughts on the relationship between director and composer. "To me I find something kind of moving and poignant about people who need music," he says, "Especially if it's music that the commercial world is often telling you is no longer as important as it once one."
Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics