‘La La Land’ producer discusses challenges making film, career in Hollywood


Noah Frick-Alofs/The Daily Northwestern

“La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz (Communication ’02) speaks during an event hosted by Studio 22 in the Owen L. Coon Forum on Tuesday. Horowitz said getting “La La Land” to be picked up by a studio was the “most difficult” thing he had ever done.

Emily Chaiet, Reporter

“La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz (Communication ’02) during a talk Tuesday advised people who want to pursue a film career in Los Angeles to find the right people to work with and be patient.

“LA takes a long time to open up to you,” Horowitz said. “It doesn’t actively open up to you the way that New York does. In LA you kind of have to do the work yourself.”

Horowitz spoke to an audience of about 150 people in Owen L. Coon Forum about the process of producing the Oscar-winning film “La La Land,” which won six Academy Awards including Best Director, Best Actress and Best Original Musical Score. The event, hosted by Studio 22, featured a screening of the film, which was followed by a Q&A session.

Communication sophomore and co-director of Studio 22 Megan Ballew said Horowitz’s talk was the first time Studio 22 had hosted such a large speaking event. Tyler Gould, the other co-director of Studio 22, added that the event was a good way for the student group to gain attention outside of the Radio, Television and Film major.

Gould, a Communication sophomore, said the group wanted Horowitz to come speak because he had just recently worked on “La La Land” and is a Northwestern alumnus.

“Part of Studio 22’s purpose is to assist in making student films, but also it’s educational,” Gould said. “We’re bringing in a speaker that can talk about the transition from graduating for Northwestern into going into the industry.”

Patience and communication have been integral to his success as a producer, Horowitz said. As there is much uncertainty about how people will react to a film, the only way to ensure success is to be able to communicate well with everyone on the project, he said.

Horowitz said getting “La La Land” to be picked up by a studio was the “most difficult” thing he had ever done. It took five years pitching the film to various places before Lionsgate agreed to take on the film, he said. Horowitz added that the project was originally not picked up because people thought it was “too big” and that original musicals for film “do not work.”

Many people saw “La La Land” as a film made for the Oscars, Horowitz said. But he said he saw it as an original project he was passionate about.

Before “La La Land,” Horowitz produced another Oscar-nominated film, “The Kids are All Right,” which starred Julianne Moore and Annette Bening.

Despite his success in the film industry, Horowitz said he learned more from his movies that didn’t work out compared to those that did well.

“Failing is good,” he said. “It’s a really good thing to do when you can and when it’s okay. Having something not work and then looking at it and taking responsibility for why it didn’t work and understanding your role in that is priceless.”

Communication sophomore Elenore Pan said she attended the event because she wanted to hear a producer speak. She said she appreciated hearing about the effort and patience required to create “La La Land.”

“As a college student, I can totally see that when you are with the right people and you put a lot of thought into a script, the result is so much more different,” Pan said. “I cannot imagine how much patience you must have to have to literally fight for five years to make a film.”

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