Out next week is Edgar Wright’s “Baby Driver,” which played at Austin’s SXSW earlier this year to high critical acclaim. We are talking 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and that’s unheard of for an action film!
The movie is about an extraordinary getaway driver (Ansel Elgort) who uses music to hyper focus on driving getaway cars in robberies. After being coerced into working for a crime boss (Kevin Spacey), he dreams of the day of escaping with his soulmate into the sunset. Part romance but mostly thrilling action, Edgar Wright creates a visually spectacular story, that pays close attention to creating compelling characters with a pounding sound track.
As music played a large role in both ‘Guardians of the Galaxy” films, music is incorporated in a similar way from director/writer Wright in his new film “Baby Driver.” I got invited to sit down with the director and discuss his music and location choice for the heist film out June 28.
Take reading this interview to the next level and play the soundtrack here on YouTube at the same time!
Allie Hanley: Music plays such a fabulous role in “Baby Driver.” When you originally came up with the idea of the story how did the music play into it?
Edgar Wright: As much as the music is a main motivator factor in the main character’s life, the whole idea for the movie came about because I would be listening to music and visualizing these scenes. It goes back as far as, -I wouldn’t say I’ve been working on the movie for 22 years, but I’ve been thinking about it in some sort of form because the opening track of the movie, “Bell Bottoms” by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. When I was 21 I use to listen to that on audio cassette tape the whole time. And I use to sort of visualize a car chase. And way back then, I wouldn’t even call myself a film director but I would start to visualize this action scene, -which was a million miles away from what is actually on film 2017. So that’s crazy to me.
So really, the music was sort of the inspiration for the movie and then it developed into a movie about a character that is obsessed with music.
On setting the story’s location:
EW: Well it’s interesting to me because it was written when I first got the idea I was in London but I knew it couldn’t be in London because you don’t really get car chases in London. London is car chase proof! Mainly because of the one way system, and banks are not likely to be next to freeway systems so it just doesn’t happen. When you get robberies in London they’re usually on scooters and such.
Then I wrote it in Los Angeles and set it in Los Angeles. Then when we were actually getting ready to make the movie you start having budgetary concerns and things like tax-breaks in a city, certain places become more attractive to the producers. And initially I was a bit reluctant to that but I ended up doing a little tour of tax break cities and I was like fascinated. So me and my production manager went to Cleveland, Detroit, New Orleans, and then Atlanta.
Atlanta was where I had been to a number of times but only at a press capacity. I’d been to a studio there that was miles away from anything. So I had never really gotten to know the real place. It was in spending more time there and asking to location manager to take me to places I had never been to before and other places that people weren’t filming in that sold me on writing it for Atlanta. It’s the biggest location right now doubling for LA and New York.
It’s also a big music city and a big car city too. It’s also a main travel hub, so it’s a target for crime. So a lot of the stuff that happens in the movie genuinely happens in the city. So, all of those things came together. Once I had rewritten the script for Atlanta with the help of a friend of mine who was from there,… I rewrote it and it was cool.
Setting it in Atlanta distinguishes it a bit from many of the LA heist films like “Heat,” “Point Break,” “The Driver.” It also makes more sense for the characters to be heading west, so when they get on the road it’s like they are heading to the other ocean. Even though it wasn’t my first idea, now Atlanta is synonymous in my head.
On treading the line between incorporating nostalgia and creating something new:
EW: Essentially you start to see it through the eyes of your actors… early on in the audition process. …Music if used properly essentially can be timeless. I really didn’t want to have too many contemporary songs in the movie because I didn’t really want to date the movie the much. Everything in the movie is a little bit dates, -the cars, the IPod Classic, the fact that he doesn’t have a smart phone. I thought he would be off the grid, even when he makes that song, he uses all analog equipment. He did it tape to tape, like not ever having a computer.
You take things that are familiar and unfamiliar and nostalgic and new, and hopefully through that you create your own flavor that feels of itself, ya know. That’s the idea anyway.
Originally screened at SXSW.