Whiplash just very well may be my favorite film of 2014. While Birdman won the Academy Award for best picture the year Whiplash was also nominated, I personally would have liked to have seen that award go to Whiplash instead which I found to be the superior film. That's not to say Birdman wasn't a terrific film nor that it didn't deserve accolades as it absolutely did, but Whiplash is a masterpiece in its own right - something highlighted by the short film that preceeded it.

In trying to garner funding for his feature film, director Damien Chazelle managed to turn fifteen pages of his script for Whiplash into a short film which thankfully and rightfully was released to much acclaim and led to Chazelle being able to make his feature film. The eighteen-minute short film - also titled Whiplash - mirrors the final scene that ended up in the feature film to a surprising extent, the dialogue and pacing being almost identical between the two.

And then of course we have J.K. Simmons. There may be countless upon countless times when all of us have felt as if great wrongs have been committed by the Academy, but J.K. Simmons winning an Oscar for his performance as Flecther in Whiplash was certainly not one of those times. And the same intensity that he brought to the feature film, he brings to the short film in which he also appears. One of the most remarkable aspects of his performance is the fact that he is both utterly terrifying and yet hilariously entertaining at the same time. You're afraid of what he'll do and you feel the same dread his students do, yet you can't help but laugh at his quips, as cruel and demeaning as they may be. Maybe finding those brief moments of joy are what's needed to relieve some of the tension the scene has as you could cut said tension with a knife. There are differences between the short and the feature film, but J.K. Simmons remains a constant.

Everything in the short that's somehow different to the scene in the feature film though - save for perhaps the quality of the musical performances - is not in any significant way weaker than what is in the feature film as much as it's just different and elicits a different vibe. The color scheme and setting of the scene for one is a major contributor to the atmosphere and feel of both pieces. The short film is set in a classroom that doesn't look all that out of the ordinary. The scene takes place in broad daylight which is evident due to the classroom having windows, the color scheme in the class being one of sterile white and grey, maybe some blue... It's an average classroom in an average school that evokes a feeling of realism - as if this scene could have played out in real life in a classroom in your own school to either you or your fellow classmates.

The feature film on the other hand provides a completely different vibe. The color scheme of the film is in large portions of it the complete opposite of the sterile and cold color scheme of the short, in turn evoking warmth and richness with shades of orange. The room in which Fletcher holds band practice is one with seemingly no windows and to which we see the main protagonist get to by going down some stairs, thus giving off a claustrophobic and closed-off vibe that, along with the orange color scheme, evokes a feeling of descending down to some deep level of hell. It's more cinematic and more intense than the short, although the short in its own right is still powerful due to its feeling of realism.

The other major difference in the short when compared to the feature film is the role of the main character Andrew Neiman, played in the short film by Johnny Simmons and played in the feature film by Miles Teller. While Teller impressed the hell out of me in the film and garnered my respect for his performance, both his and Simmons' performances are great for their own reasons. And it can't be overstated that Teller's performance in the scene is one in the context of a two-hour movie whereas Simmons' performance has to be judged based on what he can deliver in the one scene of the short film alone.

Simmons' Neiman comes off as far more insecure and fragile than that of Teller's. He gives off a feeling of nervousness and uncertainty all throughout the short, indicating that not only is he incredibly nervous about being in Fletcher's class to begin with, but that he is also deathly afraid of him. Because you see how nervous he is from the very get-go, you can't help but start feeling nervous for him as well. And since his time to actually play for Fletcher doesn't come until near the end of the short, there's about ten or so minutes of time for the viewer to see what Fletcher's teaching methods are like not only to know the character, but to develop a proper amount of fear for what will happen to Andrew.

Teller's performance in comparison changes the dynamic and the overall impact of the scene. His Neiman comes off as far more self-assured and in a way cocky than that of Simmons'. He's nervous, sure, but he still feels like someone who knows he is where he needs to be. He believes he is talented enough to be in the same room with Fletcher and his band. And when his performance for Fletcher begins and he at first impresses Fletcher, his face and body language says it all - he knows how good he is, and he revels in being able to show that. It is when the inevitable outburst from Fletcher finally happens then that the fall is that much harder. You expect it for the entirety of the short, dreading the moment. In the feature film, however, the moment comes more as a surprise. It hits you like a slap in the face (see what I did there?) and is far more jarring than when it happens in the short.

The moment of Andrew falling apart then is due to these differences also different in the two films. In the short it's an already nervous person breaking down because they are nervous and emotional. In the feature film, however, Teller's Neiman is in turn doing his best to keep his composure and hold it together. He's falling apart on the inside but he tries not to show it on the outside, his single tear being the thing that he isn't able to keep in.

Is one scene better than the other? Depends on how you look at it and how you prefer these character dynamics and this scene to be represented. But in their own ways, both scenes are perfect. And the fact that the Whiplash short is so close to the final scene in the Whiplash feature film is the only proof that Chazelle knew what he wanted the scene to be. He didn't need the practice of making the short film to figure out how to direct the scene and thus the whole movie. The short isn't a work in progress. The final product might be more refined and takes on a life of its own due to the context of the rest of the film, but even when it was just an isolated scene masquerading as a short film, Whiplash was already a masterpiece.