Baby Driver Blu-ray

On Wednesday night, I visited the Petersen Automotive Museum on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles to attend the Blu-ray release party of Baby Driver, writer/director Edgar Wright‘s music-driven car chase film that debuted earlier this year. Sitting next to Baby’s bright red Subaru from the film, Wright showed off some clips from the film’s bonus features and participated in a lengthy Q&A session, during which he revealed a few cool pieces of information we didn’t know about the making of the film.

Oh, and Kevin Spacey – who plays heist mastermind “Doc” in the movie – unexpectedly dropped by for an impromptu conversation as well. Read on for eight things we learned about Wright’s toe-tapping musical action thriller.

The evening kicked off with a performance from DJ Kid Koala (who contributed to the film’s soundtrack):

And one of L.A.’s awesome pop culture art galleries, Gallery1988, displayed some cool art pieces devoted to the movie in advance of their own special show that’s opening soon:

So let’s get into what we learned over the course of the evening.

Baby Driver Q&A

One mystery song was removed during reshoots

The Q&A began with Wright speaking with L.A. Times journalist Mark Olsen, and when talking about the importance of the music to the story, Wright admitted that there was one song he ended up cutting from the film at the last minute because he soured on it over time:

“People always say, ‘Do you like the songs in the movie?’ and if you’re going to live with it for twenty years and even just making this movie for three years solidly and then editing it, they better be songs you like. In fact there was one song that was in the script, we shot the scene, and then during the editing process, I started to get slightly sick of the song. We did a couple days of reshoots, and I reshot part of the scene so I could get rid of the song. I’m not going to say what the song is because it is a good song and maybe I’ll use it again sometime, but it was one song that turned into, every time the scene would start, my back would get up a little bit because I didn’t really like it anymore. But that was the only one. Everything else – I’d say like 90% of the tracks that I wrote into the first script – are in the finished movie.”

The Streisand connection

In one of the bonus features, Jamie Foxx (who plays a gangster named Bats) explained how most of the cast were either musicians, dancers, or had some rhythm to them before they were brought on board, which obviously helped for a movie that’s so specific when it comes to matching music with movement. When the clip was over, Wright shared a funny story about Foxx (who is a musician himself):

“Jamie Foxx has a line in the movie where he says, ‘Do I look like I know a fuckin’ thing about Barbra fuckin’ Streisand?’ And the irony there is that Jamie Foxx is friends with Barbra Streisand. He’s done a duet with her, in fact. I never really asked him about that until we were shooting that scene, and then in between takes, I said to Jamie, ‘Jamie, what do you think Barbra will make of the scene?’ And Jamie said, ‘Do you know Barbra?’ And I was like, ‘No.’ And he goes, ‘Barbra’s gangsta.’ And that was the end of that discussion! I have no idea whether she’s seen it, but I hope she enjoys it.”

Wright recorded a read-through years before production

Wright wrote specific tracks into the movie’s script, but early in the film’s development, he utilized an unorthodox method of timing out how the script would work with the music:

“I had written the first draft of the script just before I did the first draft of the script for The World’s End. And we did a read-through at Working Title…and once I had this read-through, me and my editor cut the read-through to the music. So then I had this audio file that was, like, a hundred minutes long, and it was like listening to a radio play. Because then you can really see whether the scene was too long for the song, and whether it worked. I guess that’s another way of thinking about it like a musical, is you’re trying to let the music lead sometimes. It didn’t always work that way, but in a lot of places, it was a way to work out the overall flow.”

A creative solution to a song being too short

The premise of Baby Driver is that a talented young driver (played by Ansel Elgort) with tinnitus is constantly listening to music to drown out the ringing in his ears. Over time, he’s developed a playlist of songs he uses for specific moments in his getaways, and the whole film is intricately timed to those songs. So what happens when it turns out a song is too long?

“I think we got maximum bang for our buck with the action because we were never shooting more than we needed. This song by the John Spencer Blues Explosion is five minutes long, therefore this chase is five minutes long. There is one scene in the movie where the only time that failed – and Bill Pope, my cinematographer, was the first person to point it out. There’s a song by The Damned that plays during the Mike Myers heist, and that song is just over two minutes long, maybe two and a half minutes. He’d seen what I’d cut together with the storyboards, and Bill Pope said, ‘This scene is too long for the song.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, why do you say that?’ And he goes, ‘Because what you’ve drawn and what you’ve cut is fine, but the stunts will take longer than that to resolve, and the stunts are going to look good and you’re going to want to hold on them longer, so you’re going to run out of song.’ And I was like, ‘Well, let’s see.’ Of course he was absolutely right.

So then I was in a situation where we’d shot most of the scene, and I was like, ‘He’s right. The song runs out way before it’s finished.’ I thought about it for the whole shoot. What was I going to do? Was I going to put another song on, was I going to have it in silence for the rest of the scene? But that didn’t really make sense for the character because he has to be motivated by music. So then on the last day of the shoot, I shot this new shot of Ansel rewinding the song. So he gets into a new car – they have to carjack the next car – gets in, plugs his iPod in, rewinds the song to the last verse and chorus, and starts it again. That made perfect sense because the character has been derailed, he had a plan and it was ruined, so his choreography to the song is all out of whack. When he gets into the next car, he rewinds it to the point he was at and starts it again. So there are things where you can plan the shit out of something, and something can throw you for a loop. But the solution to it is something that crystallizes in the character.”

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