Designing ‘La La Land’

Los Angeles is a character in the romantic musical "La La Land," from famed landmarks to infamous freeway traffic jams.

Los Angeles has many nicknames, and one of them, La La Land is not usually meant as a compliment. But the romantic musical La La Land is an unabashed tribute to this city of celluloid dreams. The film, written and directed by Whiplash director Damien Chazelle, opens this Friday on a wave of Oscar buzz.

Ryan Gosling plays Sebastian, a struggling jazz musician who dreams of opening his own club, and Emma Stone plays Mia, an aspiring actress. Their love affair plays out in some of LA’s most iconic settings, from Griffith Observatory to Watts Towers, from glamorous backyard pool parties and dimly-lit dive bars to maddeningly jammed freeways.

The movie is both a nostalgic look at Tinseltown and a very contemporary film about struggling to survive in the City of Angels. As Chazelle himself wrote in the LA Times, “I wanted to make a movie about how life feels when you’re in love and full of dreams in the big city.”

La La Land‘s stunning visuals were largely the creation of a husband and wife team: David Wasco, production designer, and Sandy Reynolds-Wasco, set decorator. They describe La La Land as a valentine to Los Angeles — and to films about Los Angeles.