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Watch an iPhone-Shot Rehearsal of La La Land’s Ambitious Opening Dance Number

“Another Day of Sun” had humble origins.

Dale Robinette

Damien Chazelle’s La La Land lets you know right off the bat that what you’re about to watch is a capital-M musical. The intricate opening number, Another Day of Sun,” is sung and danced by a group of brightly attired Los Angeles drivers stuck in traffic on a highway ramp, all ruminating on the sunny-but-disappointing nature of show business.

But before it became the carefully choreographed routine that appears in the movie, the “Another Day of Sun” sequence was rehearsed in a humble parking lot, with Chazelle planning the camera work on an iPhone. A video from USA Today shows the painstaking practice run in action—and even includes an insert so that you can see how the rehearsal lines up with the final result.

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Chazelle told USA Today that he and choreographer Mandy Moore first planned the scene by talking it through and diagramming it out. From there, he said, figuring out the dance moves and the camera work “was sort of a chicken-and-egg problem; they had to be formulated at the same time.”

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He went on to explain that the rehearsal video acted as a “bible” when the crew was finally able to rehearse the scene on an actual highway ramp but that new issues cropped up without the freedom of an iPhone to film. “The crane could not move the way an iPhone moves,” he said. “The choreography looked different, the slant of the freeway created a lot of other challenges. Everything was just tricky.”

The final result, which looks like a single, unbroken six-minute take but is actually three stitched together, was definitely worth the hassle. “Another Day of Sun” accomplished what it set out to do—and was so emblematic of the movie as a whole that it even launched the inevitable parody or two.

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