Every scene in Baby Driver is synced to the soundtrack which made it challenging to shoot the car stunts.
We recently chatted to Hollywood stunt driver Jeremy Fry to get the lowdown on Edgar Wright’s new car chase film Baby Driver. Unlike most modern CGI-filled movies, Baby Driver’s car stunts were all performed practically. It’s wholly refreshing to see a car chase film that emphasizes driving skill rather than spectacle. While some cop cars and pickups get damaged, don’t expect to see any physics-defying crashes like in Fast and Furious. ”The second unit director kept saying ‘what we’re missing are some big wrecks,’” says Fry.
“I don’t think people will miss them. I think the gags that we did and how it was shot more than makes up for that.” What also sets Baby Driver apart is the soundtrack. In the film, Ansel Elgort plays a getaway driver known a Baby who constantly listens to music to drown out his tinnitus. Featuring 35 songs from artists including Queen, The Beach Boys and Blur, the film is entirely driven by the music Baby listens to. Every scene is meticulously synced to the soundtrack, which presented challenges when shooting the stunts. “The restrictions that it put on us were very tight,” says Fry. “Everything was pre-vised very meticulously. We knew frame for frame what we had to shoot."
But when you go out there, you realize that what they had pre-vised couldn’t be done. They would show a car coming around a corner and then the next corner and we’d count the number of frames. It would be in the one second realm. But in reality, you can’t go around the first and second corner in one second, it takes five seconds. Normally, that’s no big deal in a car chase - you just add a few more seconds to it. But in this you had to pull four seconds from somewhere else to make up for that time. It was tough. I’m sure the editor’s job was difficult too. We did the best we could but there’s no way we were right on so they had to be creative and figure out how to make it time out."
The editors did an amazing job working with Edgar to realize his dream. It’s such a cool concept that ties the movie together.” In contrast, some of the most iconic car chases that inspired Baby Driver, such as Bullitt, The Driver and Ronin, have no music whatsoever. Some purists argue that the raw sound of revving engines and squealing tires makes a chase scene more visceral. “I love watching the Gymkahana videos. There’s no music – I love it!” says Fry. “But there are people who would really like having music there. And if you add in music with the engine sounds as well, it’s a different feel. I don’t know if one is necessarily better than the other."
"I don’t know if it takes away from it – some people could legitimately argue that it does, and others would say that it enhances it. I think what Edgar did with the music works very well.” Baby Driver is being praised for its innovative filmmaking and exhilarating action sequences, achieving a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. “I was very happy to hear the reception that it got at South by South West,” says Fry. “And the fact that so many people seem to be highly anticipating it coming out. It seems to have caught the car world’s eye which is very flattering and a big honor. I’m very excited to see what people think when they see the movie. I don’t think people are going to be disappointed.”