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FIRST MAN Filmmakers Help Launch Key Partnership Between Education Through Music-Los Angeles and Griffith Observatory

(L-R) Composer Justin Hurwitz, Actress Olivia Hamilton, Director Damien Chazelle, ETM-LA Executive Director Victoria Lanier.

Contact: Katie Boone
Phone: (818) 433-7600


LOS ANGELES, CA – On Thursday, November 29, 2018, a special screening of First Man was held at the 180-seat Leonard Nimoy Horizon Theatre at Griffith Observatory, featuring an exclusive Q&A panel of First Man filmmakers including Academy Award-Winning Composer Justin Hurwitz and Academy Award-Winning Director Damien Chazelle (La La Land, Whiplash), and Actress Olivia Hamilton. In partnership with Friends of the Observatory and Universal Pictures, proceeds from the event benefitted both the Observatory’s regional education programs and Education Through Music-LA’s music instruction programs in disadvantaged schools across Los Angeles County.

This exciting exploration of space and music coincided with the launch of a pivotal partnership between ETM-LA and the Griffith Observatory, promoting STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Math) initiatives in education in order to provide disadvantaged youth with equitable opportunities to develop skills and knowledge needed to be successful, creative innovators for the 21st Century. “We believe it is crucial for every child regardless of socioeconomic status or background. Together we’re excited to launch more activities and programs that will inspire future generations,” said ETM-LA Executive Director Victoria Lanier.

Moderated by Lanier, the Q&A gave the audience a close-up look into the making of the film, anecdotes around Chazelle and Hurwitz’s prominent use and recording of the theremin for the musical score, and a discussion of how the film’s themes drove Chazelle’s cinematic decisions. Hurwitz described his exploration of new musical techniques and sounds for the film, a departure from his previous jazz-focused scores (La La Land, Whiplash). “Damien wanted a totally different sound. We played around with a lot of stuff that we hadn’t used before… a lot of electronic instruments and production of the recordings,” shared Hurwitz.

Hamilton reflected on the spirit of First Man: “I found in reading the script and being a part of the process that I had a much greater appreciation for what it really takes to do something big, and it inspired me [to see that] this is what humans can achieve.” Chazelle added, “Knowing that we were going to depict that height of accomplishment [of the moon landing], it felt like our duty in terms of theme, first and foremost, was to make you feel the underside of that — to make you feel the loss; you also want to feel the drive of this group of people, the joy… that sense of family.”

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About Education Through Music-Los Angeles

Education Through Music-LA believes all children deserve a well-rounded education that includes music and the arts. Its mission is to promote and provide music as a core subject in disadvantaged schools in order to enhance student achievement, creativity & overall development. Founded in 2006, ETM-LA has grown from two schools serving 800 children to 36 schools serving approximately 15,000 Los Angeles children.

About Griffith Observatory

Soon after opening in 1935, Griffith Observatory initiated one of the first school visit programs in the region. Generations of Los Angeles-area students made the pilgrimage in buses up Mount Hollywood for an experience under the stars. Since the reopening of the renovated Observatory in late 2006, over 290,000 fifth-grade students and 32,000 teachers and chaperones from 4,300 schools around the region have participated in the Observatory’s School Program.


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