Chazelle studied as a musician, but filmmaking was always his aim. After directing the super low budget “Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench” in 2009, he hit a wall trying to get a musical made — he would ultimately make this project, “La La Land” after “Whiplash” became a success.
So, for the time being, Chazelle started working as a screenwriter for hire. Given the nature of the business, he almost certainly did uncredited work, but produced scripts that bear his name include “The Last Exorcism Part II,” “The Grand Piano,” and “10 Cloverfield Lane.” Chazelle told /Film about writing the latter:
“That’s how I got my start in Hollywood, let’s say, was as a writer for hire and very much in that sort of space of genre stuff, whether it was doing rewrites — ‘Cloverfield Lane'” really, was a rewrite. So I can’t really take much credit there. That was a genre spec script that Bad Robot had, and they had me come on and do a pass on. Then I think another writer did a pass, and Dan Trachtenberg directed the film. So I was one of several writers on that.”
In the meantime, Chazelle conceived of “Whiplash” after seeing “Full Metal Jacket.” The movie reminded him of his own experiences with a demanding instructor while studying music. According to Chazelle, his script doctoring is how he made the connections he needed to tell stories of his own.