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Behind the Score with Justin Hurwitz

 Written by    November 15, 2017

The Ohio Union Activities Board, more commonly known as OUAB, puts together many awesome FREE events for all Ohio State students. Some of their events involve bringing really cool people to campus! I had the pleasure of hearing the composer of “La La Land”, Justin Hurwitz, speak about what it was like creating the music for the award winning film.

Justin Hurwitz was born in California, but actually spent most of his childhood in Wisconsin. He attended Harvard University where he met his longtime collaborator Damien Chazelle. As a Harvard alum, two-time Golden Globe, and two-time Academy Award winner, I expected Hurwitz to be a little pretentious or arrogant. Shockingly, he was the exact opposite.  

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I think part of the reason Hurwitz was so humble and authentic is because he grew up in the midwest and had a normal childhood. Unlike many other famous artists, Hurwitz actually went to school to find his passion. He explained that you find your true passion only when you decide you would be happy doing it for free. That piece of advice will stick with me for the rest of my life. Hurwitz also believes a ton of hard work can make up for talent. If you really love doing something, you should continue to pursue it with all the determination you can muster.

Hurwitz discussed how difficult it was for “La La Land” to actually exist. He and Chazelle first started working on the movie in 2011 but no one wanted to produce a brand new musical written by two college kids. Originally, the film was going to be shorter with a very small budget. Finally the pair found Lionsgate, and “La La Land” hit theaters in 2016. Hurwitz put in hundreds of hours to this film, and his efforts truly paid off in the end.

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I could not believe my ears when Hurwitz said he has over 1,900 files of potential “La La Land” score in his iTunes music library! The most frustrating part of writing music, he said, was actually sitting at the piano and trying to find the perfect melodies. Not only do melodies have to fit the theme of a movie, they also must be catchy enough for movies watchers to remember. His favorite part of composing is working with the orchestra and hearing his music come to life.

If you enjoyed “La La Land” as much as I did, be sure to look out for yet another Justin Hurwitz and Damien Chazelle collaboration. Their next film, titled “First Man”, will follow the life of Neil Armstrong and his giant leap for mankind. Hurwitz noted his sound will be very very different from his work on previous films.

 

P.S.- “First Man” will also star Ryan Gosling!!

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Images courtesy of giphy.com

 

 

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