'We tried to do it all for real which is absolutely possible, it’s just painstaking'
The 'Wright' way to do a car chase scene, according to Baby Driver film director
After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail. In what is essentially a car-chase movie set to music, writer-director Edgar Wright says it all came down to preparation when it came to shooting the film’s three crucial “increasingly nightmarish” car chases.
For a generation like Wright’s who grew up with Grand Theft Auto, Baby Driver feeds the fantasy of being in the middle of a high-speed chase, the man best-known for his trilogy Three Flavours Cornetto says. Except this is real. No computer tricks - real cars with real drivers, including Ansel Elgort as the title character, getaway driver Baby.
Unlike the chase scenes in The Fast and the Furious franchise he says: “We tried to do it all for real which is absolutely possible, it’s just painstaking”.
The 43-year-old English director who has also had a hand in Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World has had the idea behind Baby Driver on his mind for more than 20 years and even knew the music he wanted to use.
He had the soundtrack sewn up before he started filming, meaning he could shoot scenes using the actual songs used on-screen, which is rare on a film set.
He’s using music, especially the beats in new ways not seen before in film. So Baby turns making a sandwich or buying a coffee into a slick pseudo-dance that’s far removed from a traditional musical. Bullets fly in time to the music. Even crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) talks in a rhythmic syncopation.
“I’m trying to do something that’s pushing into new territory,” Wright explains.
Baby Driver defies being pigeonholed. There’s a classic drive-in romance between Baby and diner waitress Debora (Lily James) and it also has echoes of a gangster tale with edgy work from Jamie Foxx as hot-tempered crook, Bats.
Even the cast struggled with defining the film. “Calling it comedy-action is not quite right,” admits Elgort, who did much of his own driving in the film. “It really is an old-fashioned movie because like, remember those old trailers: ‘Romance! Comedy! Action! Love and fighting!’ It’s literally that. This feels like a Hollywood blockbuster in the best way possible. It’s a movie I’d watch over and over again.”
Baby Driver is in cinemas from Thursday, July 20.
For our Arts&Lifestyle interview with Baby Driver cast member Jon Hamm, check out the Wednesday, July 19, edition of The National.