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Chazelle at Mill Valley Film Festival in 2016
|Born||Damien Sayre Chazelle
January 19, 1985
Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.
|Education||Princeton High School|
|Alma mater||Harvard University|
(m. 2010; div. 2014)
|Awards||For Best Director:
Golden Globe Award
Damien Sayre Chazelle (//; born January 19, 1985) is an American director and screenwriter. After making his directorial debut with the musical Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench (2009), he rose to prominence after writing and directing his second feature film, Whiplash (2014), based on his 2013 short film of the same name. The film premiered at Sundance Film Festival and went on to receive five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.
His 2016 film La La Land received critical and commercial acclaim, winning all 7 of its Golden Globe nominations, including Best Picture – Musical or Comedy, Best Director and Best Screenplay. It also received a record-tying 14 Academy Award nominations, winning six including Best Director, with Chazelle becoming the youngest person in history to win the category at age 32.
Chazelle was born to a Roman Catholic family in Providence, Rhode Island. His mother, Celia (née Martin) Chazelle, is an American-Canadian writer and professor of history at The College of New Jersey, who was raised in Calgary, Alberta.
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. His maternal grandfather, John Sayre Martin, Jr., is the son of John Sayre Martin, who worked for Paramount Pictures in London, and Eileen Earle, who was a stage actress.
Filmmaking was Chazelle's first love, but he subsequently wanted to be a musician, and struggled to make it as a jazz drummer at Princeton High School. He has said he had an intense music teacher, who was the inspiration for the character of Terence Fletcher in Chazelle's breakout film Whiplash. Unlike the film's protagonist Andrew Neiman, however, Chazelle stated that he knew instinctively he never had the talent to be a great musician, and after high school, pursued filmmaking again. He studied filmmaking in the Visual and Environmental Studies department at Harvard University and graduated in 2007.
Chazelle's debut as a writer and director was the film Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench. Chazelle has shared screenplay credit with director Ed Gass-Donnelly on The Last Exorcism Part II, 2013. He is also credited as the screenwriter on 2013's Grand Piano, a thriller that has an anxious pianist dealing with a death threat during a concert. Chazelle has stated in interviews that he was working as a 'writer for hire' but had the ambition to direct his own script. Chazelle described Whiplash as a writing reaction to being stuck on another script. 'I just thought, that's not working, let me put it away and write this thing about being a jazz drummer in high school.' He stated he initially did not want to show the script around, as it felt too personal, and "I put it in a drawer."
Whiplash gained interest from producers, but nobody initially wanted to make the film. Chazelle's 85-page script was featured on Black List in 2012 as one of the best unmade films of that year; it was eventually picked up by producers, including Helen Estabrook, who suggested J. K. Simmons for the role of the teacher, Terence Fletcher. A short film, made as proof of concept, was accepted at the Sundance Film Festival 2013; financing was raised for the film, and in 2014 it was released to an overwhelmingly positive critical reaction.
Whiplash won the Sundance Film Festival Short Prize in 2013 as a short and in 2014 the top audience and grand jury awards in the U.S. dramatic competition as a full-length feature film. The film also took the grand prize and the audience award for favorite film at the 40th Deauville American Film Festival. On January 15, 2015, Whiplash received 5 Academy Award nominations, including Best Adapted Screenplay for Chazelle. It won three of them, Best Supporting Actor for Simmons, Best Achievement in Film Editing and Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, on February 22, 2015.
Chazelle co-wrote 10 Cloverfield Lane, which was released on March 11, 2016. Chazelle was brought in by J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot Productions to re-write a draft, with the intention of Chazelle directing. However, Chazelle ultimately chose to direct Whiplash instead. His musical, La La Land, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, opened the Venice International Film Festival on August 31, 2016. It began a limited release in the United States on December 9, 2016, with a wider release on December 16, 2016. It has received rave reviews from critics. La La Land was nominated for fourteen awards at the 89th Academy Awards held on February 26, 2017, winning six of them including Best Director making Chazelle the youngest director to win an Academy Award in this category.
Chazelle will reunite with Gosling on First Man, a film from a screenplay by Josh Singer for Universal Pictures. The biopic is based on author James R. Hansen’s work First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong, written about the astronaut. It is scheduled to be released on October 12, 2018.
Chazelle met Jasmine McGlade at Harvard University and the two married in 2010; the couple divorced in 2014. Since 2015 he has been in a relationship with actress Olivia Hamilton, a Princeton University graduate in economics and finance, former McKinsey & Company consultant.
|2009||Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench||Yes||Yes||Yes||Directorial debut
also cinematographer, editor, and soundtrack lyricist
|The Last Exorcism Part II||No||Yes||No||Wrote the story and co-wrote with Ed Gass-Donnelly|
|2014||Whiplash||Yes||Yes||No||Based on his short film of the same name|
|2016||10 Cloverfield Lane||No||Yes||No||Co-wrote with Josh Campbell and Matt Stuecken|
|La La Land||Yes||Yes||No|
|2018||The Claim ||No||Yes||No|
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