In this video from our Oscar showcase The ContendersWhiplash stars Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons talk about their own surprisingly substantial music backgrounds and how that helped shape writer/director Damien Chazelle’s intense, mostly autobiographical tale of the relationship between a teacher and a jazz drummer.

“We were making music in the room,” says Simmons of the film’s performance segments, shot alongside professional jazz musicians. “It was really cool.”

The film also stars Melissa Benoist and Paul Reiser. It was produced by Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook, David Lancaster and Michael Litvak.

Whiplash won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at Sundance last winter. It has grossed about $4.1 million worldwide, on an estimated production budget of $3.3 million since its Oct. 10 release.

Have you seen the movie? What did you think? Let us know.