Welcome to AOTG.com

Sign up free

Be a part of a unique online community that connects post production professionals and film academics worldwide.

You'll have access to personalize your news feed, access to Live Post Talks and much more. Contribute to the community by posting interesting post production content.

Member Login

Social Login!

Not a Member? Sign Up!

(minimum 3 characters)
I agree with the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
To receive account info and prevent it landing in your spam folder, add info@aotg.com as an email contact.

Timing and Editing Baby Driver
with Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos

Written by Gordon Burkell
Founder of Aotg.com Twitter: @AotgNetwork

Gordon Burkell: You've been working with Edgar Wright since 'Spaced'. How has your relationship evolved over that time? What would you say has been the most significant change you’ve seen in how you and Edgar work together?

Paul Machliss: When we started I was still working full-time for a post facility and Edgar came in as a client. Back then I was an on-line editor and I was assigned to 'Spaced'. A year or so later I had gone freelance and shifted from on-line to off-line ('real') editing. Edgar invited me to complete the editing of the second series of 'Spaced'. So there was a transition in the working dynamic. Over the years the most significant change is the development of the shorthand between Edgar and myself. I know what Edgar is looking for in the edit – Edgar knows what to expect from my approach to editing. As I graduated to working on set with him an even greater level of trust has evolved.

Gordon Burkell: Edgar Wright’s films have a very distinct style, especially when it comes to editing and every film he makes is distinctly different. So how do you work with him and discuss things so that you are on the same page and understand his ideas?

Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos: He involves us months (even years) before he starts filming. In the case of 'Baby Driver' I assisted Edgar on-and-off over a five-year period before we shot a frame. I started off by sequencing the songs and adding sound effects to helping him create an audio-only version of the film (using a recording of a table-read of the script). Ultimately I would assist in the creation of animatics just prior to filming. Over that period you get to learn about the film and Edgar's intentions to a very high degree.

Gordon Burkell: The tracking shot in the beginning of the movie where Baby gets coffee took 28 takes. The 21st take is the one used in the movie. Beyond the actor hitting his marks, what was it about that take that worked for you and Edgar?

Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos: It’s everything else to do with the shot – the movement and framing of the Steadicam, the position and timing of the supporting actors, vehicles, cyclists, the ability to add extra graffiti elements in post. In take 21 all those elements came together in the best possible way.

Gordon Burkell: Music has a beat and timing to it; the footage has a rhythm and pace built into it from the production, what happens if they’re working against each other, how would you fix that?

Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos: As the music was played in for the actors to hear during shooting this did not really present itself as a major problem. I was also there editing on-set so we could minimise/fix these issues as they arose.

Gordon Burkell: A song is played in the background of nearly every scene in the film. Also, whenever a song plays in 4/4 rhythm, a shot almost always cuts in one of the four beats. In many instances, editors choose to not work with music in their initial cuts because they don’t want to become slaves to the soundtrack, so how did you cut things to ensure that you had freedom, yet met these demands?

Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos: When the scene demanded cutting to the music we used it as a 'foreground' audio element, when the scene was more dialogue based, the music became more of a 'background' element. In those scenes we were given a lot more freedom to cut, however there were certain 'anchor points' in any given song that had to be adhered to. As long as those points were hit there was more leeway in how we got there.

Gordon Burkell: According to Edgar Wright, each script sent to the main actors included an iPod that contained a list of songs that was to be played (arranged in specific order) while reading a particular scene for the movie. He did this in order to emphasize the tone. As editors, did you receive a script with an iPod and how did that help you to figure out the films style and tone?

Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos: We did receive a script (actually an iPad app that had on-screen buttons that would trigger the songs as you read the script) but as previously mentioned I had the advantage of being able to work with him on the music long before the script was issued – so I was aware of the style and tone that Edgar was after from a very early point.

Gordon Burkell: Edgar Wright timed the character's movements to the beat of the film's songs. If the actor was off how did you tackle that issue?

Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos: As an editor there are many techniques – the ones you learn over the years – that help solve issues of this nature i.e. judicious use of frame-cutting, subtle vari-speeding, using multiple angles to 'advance time' in order to push the action forward etc.

Gordon Burkell: What's your favourite guilty pleasure film to watch?

Paul Machliss and Jonathan Amos: 'Ghost Story' (1974) directed by Stephen Weeks.

comments powered by Disqus

Newest From Aotg.com
Stay Informed
  • Mail List

    E-Mail Newsletter

    Choose what Post News gets sent directly to your E-Mail, daily or weekly.

  • Apple iOS Mobile App

    AOTG App for iOS

    Get your post news on your favourite Apple device, when you want it where you want it.

  • Android Mobile App

    AOTG App for Android Devices

    Get your post news on your favourite Android device with the AOTG Android App.