The rhythm and pacing in Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver was beyond extraordinary as the editing was elevated to new heights. Editing the picture to music tracks alone is something to be in amazement of and deserves high praise for implementing unconventional methods to create a fresh, original film. Editors Paul Machliss (The World’s End, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) and Jonathan Amos (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Hot Fuzz) are the astonishing editors who intertwined the imagery seamlessly with the music to provide an innovative approach.
The idea of editing on location is a concept that allows the editing process to be sped up, as the editor instantaneously cuts after each shot. Editor Paul Machliss was on set throughout the entirety of the shoot. Machliss shared, “It’s a wonderful blend of production and post-production and one is actually informing the other, which isn’t the way to do all films, but for the parameters of Baby Driver, the fact is that so much of the music had to be in the action and the synchronization. It was fantastic not having any nasty surprises waiting for us in the cutting room several months later.”
Figuring out which shots to use during an action scene can be a tricky. Jonathan Amos worked primarily on the action sequences. “Often you always start with things of previsualization, stunt visualization, and boards. In terms of the action scenes, each one had its own challenges. Each scene was very different. The Queen track at the end had a lot of material that didn’t make the final cut. We had to try to edit it down somewhat without losing the core syncopation with the music,” Amos added.
In this case, the music had been part of the film since the conception of the script. Machliss added, “That was one reason why we were out on set, because the music was actually constantly playing as we were filming. You are constructing these scenes around the music and the music is basically the framework. Within that, you need to stick quite closely to certain beats and action points. We had to bear in mind what the music was doing with the picture and what the picture was doing with the music, because things would then fall out of sync later on down in the scene. We also wanted to edit it like we would any feature film without the kind of limitations of cutting a music video, which is really regimented.” Amos noted, “Although we did try to never edit the music, there were a few places where we had to. The Golden Rule initially was always to keep the tracks the original lengths that they were. It was a challenge to edit around the music, to have that piece of music in the beginning, to have the scenes created around it is an incredible benefit and that’s why everything feels syncopated and slick.”
Baby Driver is an invigorating, ingenious film that surpasses all expectations through the use of revolutionary approaches such as having multiple editors attached, cutting on location, and synchronization of the picture to the music as the music informs the entire film. “We’ve never done anything like this before and I don’t think Edgar has ever attempted anything on this kind of scale. How do you make all that work as well as fit into music? What you perceive as limitations, you turn them into advantages really. We didn’t want it to look like a music video or a musical, but wanted to feel like it was a film that was driven by music, rather than it being purely a musical piece in its own right.” Machliss noted. In agreement, Amos concluded, “Just the level of planning and thought that has gone into this movie makes it the incredible achievement that it is.”