Edgar Wright in Conversation with Joe Cornish

Last night at the wonderful BFI Edgar Wright ran through his career with the help of Joe Cornish and proved himself to be an incredibly driven person and a poor Rolf Harris impersonator. What follows is a vague and rambling account of what happened.

Celebrity Fraud
Towards the start we were treated to a “never before seen” clip of Celebrity Fraud featuring a teenage Wright as a Watchdog reporter about to uncover a Rolf Harris impersonator. This was incredibly funny, not least because it was a rare chance to see Edgar do a bit of acting.

Rolf Harris Saves the World Part 2
Written and directed by Wright and starring people from his school (college?) this short followed Rolf Harris battling a teacher who was giving children overdoses of homework. I’m sure you can tell that this is comedy gold, particularly when rounded off with a Cylon attack and the fact that Wright had done all the voices and sound effects after the fact.

A Fist Full of Fingers
Next up we got to see two clips from Wright’s first theatrically released film which I’m not exactly sure I’d describe as a western spoof, but will for the sake of describing it. Now it wasn’t perfect and Edgar was clearly dissatisfied with what he’d made but there was some clear talent on show and more importantly it was funny. Very funny. It reminded me of the spoofs of old, where a film would make jokes within a certain genre without falling back on pop culture references.

We then got to see a little bit of this now classic comedy. Cornish specifically chose two clips that showed some clear foreshadowing of Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim. The latter being particularly interested seeing as Spaced was made before the first book.

After Hours
Next up we got a music video for the Bluetones as directed by Edgar Wright. The video was entertaining and Wright explained that it served as practice for a steady-cam shot in Shaun. He also told us how mean the stage school kids were to each other, especially when one of them messed up a move during a take. Kids eh?

Shaun of the Dead
Next up had to be that very steady-cam shot from Shaun, as the slacker hero made his way through the zombie apocalypse for a can of diet coke and a cornetto. Edgar explained that he spent most of the shoot with a look of mild concern on his face as he squinted at the monitor and stroked his beard; something he has since learnt doesn’t lead to a relaxed shooting atmosphere.

Hot Fuzz and Dead Right
Next up Cornish had put together two similar scenes from Hot Fuzz and a short Wright had made in his teens, both featuring a police raid on a local supermarket. Wright has clearly got better with age.

As we neared the end of the evening, and frankly had started to run out of time, we were shown the mock trailer Wright made for the Tarantino/Rodriguez double bill of 2007. It was awesome to finally see the trailer on the big screen rather than on YouTube. Wright said it was lots of fun to make as every shot was a money shot and he didn’t have to worry about plot.

Scott Pilgrim vs The World
By now we were well over the scheduled finish time and Cornish asked the audience if they wanted to leave, have a Q&A or watch some Scott Pilgrim. We all cried out for both of the latter two options and so Cornish allowed anyone to leave without being heckled. He then showed a full nine minutes of the film during which he and Edgar lay down on the floor. We got to see a little bit of Scott/Ramona time followed by the entirety of Chris Evans’ screen time. It was great. Not everyone will like it. Micheal Cera is playing Scott Pilgrim not Michael Cera. And nine minutes was not enough!

What followed was a Q&A that I remember nothing about short of some Tintin talk. At some point Bryan Lee O’Malley was pointed out in the audience and was interviewed in the following fashion:

Joe Cornish: “Bryan what did you say when you first heard that Edgar Wright wanted to do your book? Yes that is a real question.”

Bryan Lee O’Malley: “Who the fuck is Edgar Wright?”

At various times Nira Park, uber British comedy producer, was gushed over and Cornish asked Wright if he had ever experienced various specific difficulties in filming, revealing more about his own directorial debut than anything Wright had experienced.

All in all it was over two hours of joyous clips and witty banter between two close and talented friends. What really came through was the drive Edgar Wright possesses that allowed him to become a successful director, a drive reminiscent of Mr Izzard.

Now for the last time go and see Scott Pilgrim next week!

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