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By now there is roughly a 100% chance that you have heard about the craze known as La La Land at least once. Damien Chazelle's whimsical Los Angeles-based musical has taken the world completely by storm, and it's gunning to win big at this year's Academy Awards ceremony. The film is chock full of amazing scenes and dance numbers, and you would think that they all took forever to accomplish during the movie's production. As it turns out, the "Lovely Night" dance number at Griffith Park only took four takes to achieve. La La Land cinematographer Linus Sandgren explained:
We found a very remote spot --- a paved road with no streetlight. We wanted to shoot it in one take to give the audience that sense that it was happening for real. To do that, we had to shoot on a crane. There were 27 different marks on the crane to hit, and the actors had to hit their marks as well.
If you weren't already thoroughly impressed with how La La Land turned out, then Linus Sandgren's recent comments to THR should finally convert you. Despite the complexity involved in shooting the "Lovely Night" musical number when Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) walk together after hanging out at a party, the crew managed to nail the scene in only a few takes. The production eventually found the right time of day to get the color of the sky and the lighting just right (around 7:20 p.m.), and they filmed two takes in two consecutive days. In the end, that was all they needed to get what they wanted in the can.
The success of this scene becomes even more impressive when we consider the fact that long takes are becoming even rarer in movies with each passing year. As filmmaking technology advances, directors can film nearly unlimited takes, and cut together whatever they want in post-production. It takes a distinctly old-fashioned sensibility (not to mention a talented filmmaking eye) to accomplish a long take, and Damien Chazelle has clearly proven that he has those skills.
Check out the awesome scene below for an even better look at the way in which all of these factors came together to make something genuinely beautiful:
La La Land is still in theaters; so make sure to check it out on the big screen while you still have the opportunity. The film will vie for Oscar gold next month when the Academy Awards air on Sunday, February 26.