Damien Chazelle Says Studio Wanted Whiplash, a Movie About a Drummer, to Cool It With All of the Drumming

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Whiplash. Photo: Sony Pictures Classic

Whiplash is about a young drummer, his abusive teacher, and their obsessive fixation on drumming. As such, it features a lot of instances of people playing the drums. And we’re not talking frantic montages or shots carefully placed to hide the artistry: Whiplash uses scene after scene of bloody-knuckled, sweat-drenched drumming to catalog the compulsion, making its point with a final long, immersive drum solo. Well, director Damien Chazelle, asked about bad studio notes he’s received, is now revealing that the film’s pièce de résistance was initially a point of contention. At Thursday’s Writers Guild of America Beyond Words panel, he shared: “It was on Whiplash, it ends with a kind of long drum solo, which was the whole point of making the movie. And the note was to get rid of all that.” But the beauty in the anecdote isn’t the suggestion itself but the incredible way the studio executive revealed his differing vision. Per Chazelle, “The note was written out — ‘He’s good at drumming. We get it.’” Well, as long as he got it, good.

Damien Chazelle: Studio Wanted Less Drumming in Whiplash