In 2003, director Edgar Wright used up his idea for a movie by putting it into a Mint Royale music video he’d been hired to do. The premise is that during a bank heist, the camera stays with the getaway driver outside. While his companions are inside making trouble, he’s rocking out to a song on the radio. The music video stars Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt of The Mighty Boosh, as well as Nick Frost and Michael Smiley. J.J. Abrams even told Wright that this “would make a great movie,” to which Wright said, “I’m way ahead of you.”
In 2016, Wright finally got to make the full film he’d dreamed of, this time using the song that inspired the sequence: Jon Spencer’s “Bellbottoms.” The opening scene of Baby Driver sees Ansel Elgort in Fielding’s role, rocking out in the car before his companions return from the bank and kick off a car chase. You’ve seen car stunts in Wright’s movies before, but never like this. Now, you may wonder why he’d release the same scene twice, especially since Noel Fielding’s growing popularity meant that everybody and their mother had already seen the Mint Royale music video. Well, Wright says that he likes doing music videos partly because they allow him to test ideas, techniques, and equipment that he wants to use in movies.
These two clips, the “Blue Song” music video and the beginning of Baby Driver, capped the start and finish of Edgar Wright’s session at Vulture Festival this past weekend. While the clip was enough to make me definitely want to see Baby Driver when it comes out June 28, I can’t help but wish the film starred Fielding, Barratt, Frost, and Smiley.
The festival discussion revolved around Wright’s use of music in his films and television. The audience was treated to the psychic gun fight in Spaced, the Queen song in Shaun of the Dead, the opening montage in Hot Fuzz, and the dragon vs. yeti scene in Scott Pilgrim.
The idea behind the pub scenes in Shaun of the Dead was that in real life, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost would always go to the same pub near their house. Wright says, “They thought it was amazing. It was a shit hole.” So, Liz’s dialogue in the film is actually what Edgar was thinking about their beloved pub. The pub also had a jukebox that would play random songs if no one put money in it, so this became the device leading to what is essentially a “Don’t Stop Me Now” music video.
The epic music battle in Scott Pilgrim vs the World where the two dragons fight the yeti is much bigger budget than what Wright has done in his other films. His role as a director was a bit like an orchestra conductor. “I remember feeling like an octopus,” he says because he had so many different things to cue. He would hit what would eventually be known as the Edgar Button, a switch for light bulb cues, which later had to be painted out of the shots. Michael Cera said it took two weeks for him to stop hearing in his head the sound of these light cues going off.