Brow Beat

Watch the Short Film That Became Whiplash

J.K. Simmons in the short that led up to the Oscar-winning Whiplash.

Still from YouTube

One of the strangest surprises of this past Oscar season was Whiplash’s nomination in the Best Adapted Screenplay category, as opposed to Best Original Screenplay. The academy’s apparent rationale: Writer-director Damien Chazelle filmed an early scene from his feature-length screenplay and premiered it at Sundance in 2013, in order to drum up funding for a feature-length film—the academy seemingly considered the feature screenplay to be adapted from the short.

Regardless, that short film has finally surfaced online, and it offers a look at how this film might have been in an alternate universe. It’s clear that, with this scene at least, little changed in the film’s transition from short film to feature—the dialogue matches almost word for word, and Simmons is just as terrifying and unsettling—except for one crucial difference: Here young actor Johnny Simmons plays the lead role that Miles Teller would eventually perform to great acclaim. It may be subtle, but the actors approach the same character just a bit differently. As Dr. Fletcher begins to hurl insults (and a chair) at Andrew, Simmons appears more visibly shaken and hurt almost immediately. Teller, on the other hand, plays Andrew as a bit more rigid and stoic—the pain still registers, though in a more covert manner, an approach that Teller maintains throughout much of the rest of the film.

For comparison, you can check out the scene from the feature, featuring Teller, below: