Last night in Sydney I got to watch Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver for a second time, and see a post-film Q&A hosted by director George Miller. The Q&A was fantastic, diving into Wright’s directing choices, musical influences and juicy details about how some of the big driving stunts and shots in the film were captured.
Miller is certainly one of Wright’s idols, but the Mad Max helmer was also clearly taken by Wright’s film. In fact, Miller’s very first question was a very specific one about how a shot towards the end of the film of Baby (Ansel Elgort) and (Debora) Lily James coming to a screeching halt in a car park, in a car they have just stolen, was done. It’s a ‘oner’ in which the car is being driven super-fast, comes to a screeching halt, and the camera pushes in on the pair as Debora then says, in realisation, “Not a chauffeur…”
So many of Baby Driver’s stunts were done on location in Atlanta, including this one. But since the car had to perform a very complex manoeuvre and the shot was done as this ‘oner’, a stunt driver and a stunt cameraman made the scene possible. James was in the passenger’s seat, and delivered the line, but Elgort, in the driver’s seat, was added in later. It’s all incredibly seamless work, and characteristic of the whole film.
Here’s how Wright explained how that particular shot was pulled off.
That shot is a bit of movie magic where it’s a real shot and it’s a real stunt and then Ansel is put in afterwards.
It’s pretty amazing – the camera was on a pogo stick. And so the guy holding the camera was another stunt man and the stunt driver Jeremy Fry did that, like, flying 90, right up to the camera. And the camera operator went towards it and put the pogo through the window. You have to have a stuntman operating as well, because he’s in the path of the cars coming towards him.
It’s a real part with Lily, and then Ansel’s part is shot separately. Ansel is actually a really good driver, but as soon as there are other actors in the car the insurance are people are like…well. In fact, the shots where Ansel is actually really doing it is mostly when he’s doing it on his own.
Miller went on to ask how many takes that took – around 25 – with Wright noting that it was a pretty simple set-up which they just keep shooting until they got it right.
They totally did.