Awesome Con 2017: Edgar Wright Talks 'Baby Driver'

Awesome Con has been steadily building over the course of its five year existence. Each year there’s some new feature, some celebrity guest, something exciting and bigger than before that really makes that year’s Con particularly Awesome. And, man, this year they went hard. We knew for months that A-list names like Stan Lee and David Tennet would be there. Still, fans (including this writer) were truly stunned by the last-minute addition of director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim) hosting a Q&A panel and premiering the first five minutes of his new film Baby Driver to the Awesome Con crowd.

As cliché as it sounds, the energy in the room was legit electric, as they blasted get-hyped music through the largest hall of the convention center, packing people in before the panel began. My chair was literally shaking, not only because Wright is my personal favorite working director and I was pumped out of my mind to hear him speak in person and catch a glimpse of the new movie, but also because this bass-heavy music was practically vibrating my soul.

The panel itself was brilliant. Mr. Wright shared stories from the set and discussed in gleefully nerdy detail all the car chase films of the past that inspired Baby Driver with panel moderator Felicia Day.

Side-note: Oh my god! Felicia Day! She’s so cool! Geek & Sundry! Dr. Horrible! Felicia Day! Ahhhh!

The pair discussed Wright’s preproduction meetings with genre legends Ron Howard, Quentin Tarantino, and George Miller to make sure he had an inside-and-out thorough understanding of what makes for a killer car movie. He talked about the Young Han Solo casting rumors that surrounded lead actor Ansel Elgort at the time of filming, and how that buzz had no direct effect on him while making the movie, despite how Han Solo-y his new character might appear. They discussed the difficulty of choreographing scenes as epic as the ones in Baby Driver, with Wright explaining that he would often have himself strapped to the hood of the stunt cars “Mad Max-style” to direct the actors during chase sequences. They then premiered the clip. And oh my god, what a clip it was.

The opening five minutes of Baby Driver are absolutely stunning.  A hyper-choreographed bank heist sequence is meticulously set to Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s “Bellbottoms”. Elgort’s titular driver is rocking out in the front seat of a getaway car while he waits for three criminals (Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, and Eiza González) to finish robbing a bank, and a huge, high-intensity getaway chase follows. Similar to the earth-shattering bass of the preshow, this clip overwhelmed my senses and blew me away. I was excited for Baby Driver, but this five minute intro shot it straight to the top of my most anticipated list. It was five minutes of pure, stylized adrenaline. If this spirit carries on into the rest of the film, then oh my god everyone, get ready.

He then answered audience questions, which is of course, always awkward for panelists. But Wright and Day handled it super well, keeping the energy high and dropping more insights into the nature of this insane new movie. One person asked if he would ever do a full-out musical, while another fan wanted to know if Wright was planning to direct a super-hero movie. He responded to both questions with a “maybe,” and Day pointed out that aspects of those genres are heavily featured in Baby Driver. He went on to explain the nature of the choreography in the film, and how despite the wishes of his producers, he wrote the script around the specific songs used on screen, and edited them while shooting. “When describing this movie to people in the beginning,” Wright explained, “I would say ‘You know the Queen scene in Shaun of the Dead? Well it’s that for the full movie.’”

Mission accomplished Awesome Con. You’re better than ever, and I’m seeing Baby Driver the second it comes out.