A modern musical set in Southern California with all-new songs? We could be describing either Damien Chazelle's Oscar front-runner La La Land or Rachel Bloom's acclaimed CW series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend — so for this installment of The Awards Show Show, Vulture's Kyle Buchanan and The Frame's John Horn invited Rachel to weigh in on what the makers of La La Land were able to accomplish. (And to get a little envious about their budget.) Afterward, our hosts run down their year-end top-ten lists, which have some big surprises.
An edited excerpt from the conversation follows; listen to the episode above, and subscribe to The Awards Show Show on iTunes.
Kyle Buchanan: Rachel, you obviously, intimately, know the musical format. You knew it before you even started creating it yourself. And so, for you to watch something like La La Land, what were the things that struck you? I know you told me that you spent most of the time envious of their budget.
Rachel Bloom: That's the first thing. I love the film; it is so beautiful. I think the score is marvelous and everything about it is wonderful. I spent half the time with a grin on my face, a big, sloppy grin, and then the other half being like, Ugh, my God, they're in Griffith Observatory! Oh, look at that CGI! Oh, they're in the sky? And especially the ending sequence, which is this dream-fantasy sequence. We just did a dream ballet number on the show and we did it in front of a stark background, and we ended up rotoscoping it, which itself costs a lot of money. But, you know, we're in network television, so our budget is different. They really used their budget. To the fullest extent.
K.B.: The fascinating thing is, I talked to Damien Chazelle, who tried to get this mounted before he did Whiplash, for a $1 million budget with the exact same scenes.
R.B.: Interesting. I wonder ... well, you couldn't do a freeway scene. Part of what was so marvelous about it was the camerawork. That scene where they're tap-dancing, it's the soft-shoe scene, the crane does a lot of choreography. It's almost like the choreographer choreographed the camera moves. ... For a million dollars, I don't think you could afford a crane like that.
K.B.: You'd have to improvise somehow.
R.B.: You would. On our show, because I come from self-funding YouTube videos, when we don't have the money for something, I'm always pitching to do it jankified. The perfect example is in the pilot, in the West Covina number, when Rebecca goes to a strip club. Everyone was like, "We gotta rent out a strip club." I was like, "Guys, just shoot me against a black wall, in a chair, with a stripper," and Marc Webb, who was our director — and who directed Emma Stone in the Spider-Man movie, and also directed (500) Days of Summer, which has a great musical number — was like, No, no. So we rented out a strip club. But we definitely cut corners. But this film, part of the reason it made me so happy was it did have this vintage and otherworldly feel to me. Similar to (500) Days of Summer, where it was reality, it was L.A., but it had this vintage gloss to it that just made it feel very warm and fuzzy, but excitingly familiar.