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Why These Beloved Scenes Were So Difficult For Edgar Wright To Film

Why These Beloved Scenes Were So Difficult For Edgar Wright To Film

Edgar Wright is not one to shy away from a challenge. His directorial style is very involved — with highly choreographed action set to music, inventive framing, and a frenetic cut style. Every film of his has at least one colossal set piece that seems like it would be quite the handful to direct. “Shaun of the Dead” unveils zombie carnage with an audacious oner that matches a previous scene. The exposition scenes in “Hot Fuzz” were praised by Every Frame a Painting for the way they use sound design and editing to show (rather than tell) everything you need to know about the sleepy village of Sandford. And “The World’s End” sets an all-out brawl between humans and aliens in a cramped pub bathroom — and that’s just the “Blood and Ice Cream” trilogy.

For “Last Night in Soho,” Wright was inspired by Quentin Tarantino’s use of actual Los Angeles locations in “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” Wright told The Hollywood Reporter that the film motivated him to shoot period Soho in contemporary Soho — no mean feat. “We went into that movie knowing how difficult it was going to be,” he said. But even the challenge of turning back the clock on Soho wasn’t the most formidable challenge of Wright’s career. During a Reddit AMA, Wright said that the most difficult scenes to film were the driving scenes in “Baby Driver” and the final fight of “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.”

Baby Driver car chases were difficult

In the AMA, Edgar Wright said, “All the car chases in ‘Baby Driver’ were very tough to pull off and a lot of hard work from a lot of great people.” Car chases are always tricky on movie shoots. You have to close off the street, hire professional drivers, and shoot everything safely as well as artistically. But “Baby Driver” had an added degree of difficulty because of how Baby (Ansel Elgort) drives to particular pieces of music. “If you choreograph a fight or dance, it’s contained,” the film’s stunt coordinator Darrin Prescott told The Hollywood Reporter. “Cars are big and expensive, and they slide.” 

Wright added an extra hurdle to production by emphasizing using in-camera practical effects as much as possible. That meant not only would the cars on-screen be choreographed, so would the car driving the camera. One driver got so close that Prescott thought “he was going to cream” the camera car.

Each car chase in “Baby Driver” is set to a song, an idea Wright had been nursing for over a decade. The idea for the film, in part, came from the director obsessing over the song “Bellbottoms” by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. “I used to sit in my bedroom, listening to this album over and over. I didn’t know what the movie was yet, but I started to imagine this car chase,” Wright told Entertainment Weekly. That was in 1995. He then made the music video for “Blue Song” by Mint Royale as proof of concept. The video stars British comedy luminaries Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt (of The Mighty Boosh), and Wright’s frequent collaborator Nick Frost.

Wright wouldn't wish “Scott Pilgrim” on his worst enemy

Another challenging shoot for Edgar Wright was the final boss fight in “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.” The scene takes place atop a giant pyramid, with wirework and swordplay aplenty. “I like to work really fast,” Wright told Entertainment Weekly. “When I start a production, it’s like I haven’t had sex for three years. So we were raring along at this amazing pace. And then there was this final set piece on a pyramid. Suddenly, we slowed down to doing ten shots in a day, which is very slow for me.”

The “Scott Pilgrim” shoot wasn’t challenging so much as emotionally tiring for Wright. With the actors’ safety being paramount, you have to shoot slow when swords are in play. But that need to slow down was torturous for Wright, even if it was a torture he had devised. “I sat there on top of this pyramid, looking down at these enormous platforms being maneuvered around, and I thought, ‘Who’s idea was this?’ And it was mine,” he remembered. The director told Reddit that filming that scene was “​​incredibly complicated and stressful,” adding he “wouldn’t recommend it to [his] worst enemy.”

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